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Carol Mathison

Wood

Actress Natalie Wood depicted Carol in the webseries era
The Basics
First Appearance Prologue, Book One
Last Appearance Alive: Prologue, Book One; Flashback: Interlude: Fireworks (Part Three), Book Three; Non-Canon: Interlude: Another Place and Time (Part One), Book Four
Age 26 (Deceased)
Cause of Death Strangled by unknown assailant
Spouse/Partner Jeff Howard


Margaret. Don't bullshit me, honey. You and I both know that Jeff's a charmer. He brings you lunch -- lunch he bought with my money, I might add! He tells you his problems. He tells you what a bitch I am, how much of a raging drunk I am, how much he wants to leave me...but he never will. Are you listening to me? I want to make sure you understand this. He never will! He's leading you on!
 
— Carol Mathison, Book One

Carol Renee Mathison, née Rogers (April 21, 1940 - July 5, 1966) was the series' first victim, the widow of David Mathison, the fiancee of Jeff Howard and the daughter of retired Haven Park police chief Stanley Rogers. Her murder rocked the small town of Haven Park, Wyoming and set the stage for things to come in the subsequent weeks.

Early life:

Carol was the youngest child and only daughter of Stanley Rogers and his wife Mona. She has two older brothers, whom live in other parts of the state. Growing up, she met Terri Englund and the two became close friends. Carol also met Shane Marcette in her youth, and was immediately attracted to him. However, the vast age difference between them prevented romance.

Carol married David Mathison in 1959, and bore two sons, Mickey (born in 1962) and Roger (born in 1963). Tragically, David was killed in a car accident in 1964, which left Carol a widow and single mother. It was then that she turned to alcohol as a way to cope. She began dating Jeff in 1965, after knowing him for over a decade, and he moved into her home shortly thereafter. The couple became engaged on Christmas Day, 1965, as shown in the Wonderful Christmastime interlude, and planned for a fall, 1966 wedding.

July 4, 1966 and death:

In the months leading up to her murder, Carol began to drink heavily and argue bitterly with Jeff, accusing him of cheating on her. On the day that she died, she confronted Jeff's friend (and ex-girlfriend) Marnie Blake at Hazel's Diner, telling her that Jeff was sleeping with prim and proper Julia Woodward. Later that day, she paid a visit to Caleb Hennessy, with the revelation that she knew his secrets and attempting to bribe him to leave town, so Terri would never have to find out. Furiously, Caleb threw her out.

When she arrived home, she was greeted by Evan Blake, who demanded to know what she'd said to upset his wife Marnie earlier in the day. He confronted her on a similar conversation she had with his first wife, the late Francine Blake, and vowed that one day, she would have to pay for the evil she'd done to others. Later that evening, Carol drunkenly confronted Jeff on his affair with Julia (and he repeatedly denied it), then told him she was leaving him and left the house, promising to be back for the children in the morning.

In the wee hours of July 5, 1966, Carol sat in the park, in the hopes of catching Jeff and Julia together, as she had a few weeks before. Emotionally, she chided herself for falling for Jeff's deception, and vowed to hit him where it hurt -- by taking the children he came to regard as his own away from him. Carol was then joined by someone at the park bench, the identity of whom is as-yet-unknown.

Discovery, aftermath and possible suspects:

See also: Book One's Score Chart

On the morning of July 5, Carol's body was found strangled in the park. Her good friend, Detective Shane Marcette, immediately presumed that Jeff was guilty of the crime, especially given that a few months prior, Carol had Jeff arrested for alleged threats he made against her. Convinced that Jeff was Carol's killer, Shane made it his personal mission to bring him down, even resorting to throwing him out of Carol's funeral service on the 7th. It was then revealed that Shane's reasons for this were more personal than originally appeared, and that Carol's attraction to him was hardly one-sided.

Terri initially found her lover Caleb's reaction to Carol's death a bit suspect, but did not come to formally suspect him until she realized her husband Lance had also been killed.

The night after Carol's murder, a heavily inebriated Evan confessed to his wife Marnie that she was looking at a murderer, and his behavior only grew more bizarre from there.

Another Place and Time:

In part one of the Another Place and Time interlude, taking place in the alternate timeline of 1981, Carol is very much alive and a mother of three (her two sons, and a twelve-year old daughter, Bryn, with her ex-husband Jeff). She is living with Shane and is very jealous of his close working relationship with his ex-wife Marnie. She ponders how much different her life would have been if her first husband, David, had never died, and vows to give Shane an ultimatum: either he replace Marnie as his campaign advisor, or she will move out.

Character conception and representation:

Carol

In the original version of the story, Carol was a softer, gentler version of herself. She was a devoted wife to Jeff and mother to her two sons, making her murder all the more tragic. She had a sister named Krista, who was far more like the Carol of today. Krista was a hard drinking woman, with loose morals, and Carol was appalled by her behavior.

For this incarnation, I found it more interesting to make Carol more troubled, especially in light of the glowing things the residents of Haven Park had to say about her. This version of Carol was a bitter alcoholic, who rarely had a kind word for anyone. I felt this opened up the possibilities a lot more, because a lot more people could have wanted her dead.

During Independence Day's webseries era, actress Natalie Wood served as Carol's visual representation.

Trivia:

In the original version of the story, the character's name was Connie.

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