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"America's Got Talent" Contestant Joe Finley Named Person of Interest in Wife's Death

Joe and Laura Finley. Laura Finely was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell in the Biltmore Hotel in LA. Joe was auditioning for America's Got Talent.
Personal Photo
America's Got Talent: Mysterious Death of Contestant's Wife at Biltmore in L.A.
Joe and Laura Finley. (Personal Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Joe Finley was hoping to put himself on the fast track to celebrity with his audition on the reality show "America's Got Talent," but now his name is in the headlines for a much different reason: the mysterious death of his wife Laura just hours before his audition. 

PICTURES: Joe and Laura Finley

Laura Finley was found at the bottom of a staircase Saturday morning around 8 a.m. after falling down eight flights of stairs in the hotel where they were staying, according to Los Angeles Police Lt. Paul Vernon.

A preliminary coroner's report says her death appears accidental but Vernon says it's still unclear whether she fell, jumped or was pushed. Police found Joe Finely waiting to audition outside a ballroom in the same hotel and showed him a picture of Laura with bruises all over her face. He reportedly responded "Oh, she's dead," even though police had not told him she was dead at that time.

Joe Finley told police that he and his wife were celebrating his approaching audition and that, after a night of bar hopping, they returned to their hotel room. He says he heard her leave around 3 a.m. Saturday and assumed she was getting ice, Tereszcuk said.

Finley says that when he woke the next morning, she was gone. Joe Finley said he reported her missing and even tried to have her paged on the hotel's public address system before going on to his audition. Police have not classified her death as a homicide at this time but have named Joe Finley as a person of interest.

After a second interview with police in which he admitted to taking ecstasy with Laura the night she died, and to having a few pills in his possession, he was arrested on drug charges and released on bail. Joe Finely posted a note on Facebook to friends and family saying, "[M]y wife Laura has in my opinion been murdered and I am in pursuit of the truth."