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R.I. Hotel's Killer Amenity: The True Crime of a Billionaire Heiress

Brenton Hotel and Homicide at High Point book cover

The Brenton Hotel in Newport is hosting author Peter Lance this summer, as he takes guests on a deep dive into the true story of how the richest girl in the world got away with murdering her gay designer.

Author Peter Lance and the Brenton Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, are launching an immersive amenity true crime buffs would die for: pulling back the curtains on one of the local community’s most notorious true crime killing.

As the author-in-residence at the Brenton Hotel this summer, Lance is holding a series of weekly discussions about the infamous true story behind his new book, Homicide at Rough Point. The explosive book reveals how the billionaire heiress Doris Duke got away with causing the 1966 death of Eduardo Tirella — a gay war hero, interior designer, art curator, and Hollywood set designer — at her Rough Point estate in Newport.

A runaway bestseller in the state, Homicide at Rough Point, the story continues to captivate audiences and Lance, who spent years researching the story, will lead guests through the twisted tale, beginning June 30, from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M., in The Living Room lounge at the Brenton.

Doris Duke

Doris Duke with the man she killed. 

Lance tells OutTraveler Tirella was “a true Renaissance man: singer, pianist, song and dance man, interior designer, millinery designer and, at the end of his life, an accomplished Hollywood set designer, not to mention war hero in that he won the Bronze Star for his service to this country in WWII during the Battle of the Bulge.”

This new immersive amenity provides free copies of Homicide at Rough Point in each room and suite at the new luxury hotel, which is located on the same exclusive waterfront favored by the country's wealthiest families since the 19th century. The Brenton Hotel guests may choose to read the book at their leisure or refer to it during Lance’s presentations.

Homicide at Rough Point also conveniently pulls double duty as a handy Newport travel guide, since the book takes place locally and includes a map to the 70 locations mentioned in the book. Lance says he plans on leading tours to many of the locations as part of the series this summer.

Tirella was killed on Duke's Rough Point estate in 1966, in what was spun at the time as an tragic accident (despite witnesses who reported the two had just had a heated argument). Lance questioned the official story, and his investigation lays to rest the fiction that Tirella's death could have been anything but a cold blooded murder.

Peter Lance Discusses Doris Duke Killing in New 'Immersive Amenity'Gates that Duke drove Tirella through and the wrecked vehicle after his death. Courtesy Peter Lance.


Managing Director Andy Ross tells Out Traveler the Brenton Hotel was designed for the visitor who “wants to see Newport through a local's point of view,” rather than a more traditional hotel and tourist experience.

Ross explains the property just opened in July 2020, but is already a popular with LGBTQ+ travelers who are anxious to explore the world and region once again. The Brenton Hotel also is keen on celebrating the local LGBTQ+ history, including the subject matter of Lance’s book.

“In our opinion there is no better way to celebrate than to celebrate our history and our art,” Ross continues. “Peter is the culmination of both, and we are thrilled to launch our immersive programming with him and this dynamic piece.”

Earlier this year, Lance scored a victory for Tirella and the truth when the Newport Restoration Foundation changed a placard at an exhibit at the estate from “The Accident at the Rough Point Gate” to “The Incident at the Rough Point Gate. While he is “pleased” with the “incremental changes” made to the exhibit, Lance says “it’s not enough” and that a “series of material falsehoods” remain in the exhibit.


Peter Lance Discusses Doris Duke Killing in New 'Immersive Amenity'Eduardo Tirella not long before his death (left) and when he was younger. Photos courtesy Peter Lance.


You can learn more about Peter Lance’s upcoming author in residence presentations at and You can purchase a copy of Homicide at Rough Point at Amazon or booksellers near you. Watch the book's trailer below and read an excerpt on


Lance’s presentation on his book, Homicide at Rough Point, debuts Wednesday, June 30, from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at the Brenton Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island.

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Donald Padgett

Managing Editor at OutTraveler. Also write for Out, The Advocate, and Plus magazines.

Managing Editor at OutTraveler. Also write for Out, The Advocate, and Plus magazines.