'Let Him Rest in Peace,' They Say Amid AIDS Rumors : Mourning Fans Defend Liberace's Style

From Associated Press

Saddened fans placed flowers or shed tears at Liberace's tomb Sunday, fondly remembering the glittery showman and criticizing the investigation into his death that followed reports he had AIDS.

"They should let the man rest in peace. I don't care what he had," said a tearful Aude Pace, 54, of Los Angeles. "That's his private business. They should just close the case."

Liberace was entombed Saturday after a brief private service attended by about 30 friends and relatives.

The tomb, at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Hollywood Hills, stands between a pair of small flowering pear trees trimmed to resemble the pianist's trademark candelabras. On the marble face, Liberace's oversized signature, complete with candelabras and grand piano, is reproduced in polished brass. The names of his mother, Frances, and his brother, George, are also inscribed on the tomb, where they also are buried.

Shortly before his death, the singer gave a copy of his signature to cemetery officials so that it could be reproduced on the vault, Forest Lawn spokesman Dick Fisher said.

"It just made me sick when I heard all this digging up dirt," said Edie Petersen, 67. "I resent anyone going into anyone's private life."

Liberace died last Wednesday at his Palm Springs home. A doctor said death was due to heart failure caused by an inflammation of the brain.

The Riverside County coroner, however, ordered an autopsy to determine whether Liberace died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome or other disease. A coroner's official said medical records showed that Liberace had been exposed to AIDS, but it was not known if he had contracted or died of the fatal disease. Tests results were expected this afternoon.

"What a fiasco they've made this into," said one mourner who would not give his name.

"I think they should just leave him alone," added Joyce Pearl, 61, of Glendora. "That was his personal life. He hurt nobody. As far as I'm concerned, he's still No. 1."

"I came out here today because he meant so much to me," Pace said as she photographed the vault. "He was my No. 1 love. My prayers were with him all the time."

She carried a key chain with a bronze replica of a ticket to a 1984 Liberace show at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

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