I don't like to speculate - but the reported suicide of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," is difficult for me to fathom. The suspicion I hold, that the "suicide" of this 52 year old seemingly vibrant woman, who could reveal the identities of powerful Washingtonians who used her "escort" services, may have not been a suicide at all, causes me sadness - over the tragic death of Palfrey herself, and over my distrust of the powerful who have proven time and again that they will do anything to protect their fortunes and their "good" names.
According to the HuffingtonPost, reporting on the suicide click here, Palfrey had spoken out on suicide in the past when she reflected on the death of one of her former escorts, University of Maryland Professor, Brandy Britton. Palfrey said of Britton's suicide,
"This is a woman who was divorced, who was trying to raise two, ah, high-school children, college-age children... [Britton had] the great job title, the great position, all the respect in the world, but she wasn't making enough money. So she decided to do a little moonlighting... And she was publicly outed, is a good way to put it, she was absolutely humiliated. Ah, she couldn't take the humiliation. Her whole life was destroyed. And she, she just, ah, ultimately committed suicide."
From the tone of Palfrey's words, she seemed to view Britton's suicide as an unfortunate and tragic response to personal degradation and humiliation. Palfrey, herself, was feisty and outspoken in her defense of her escort service - claiming the services rendered were adult fantasies and within the realm of legality. She also believed the purchasers of the services should be subjected to public scrutiny and bear culpability if there was culpability to bear. Palfrey wanted to make public the names of her clients, which she claimed were contained in an infamous "black book."
Moments ago I spoke with Arizona-based progressive radio host, Meria Heller (meria.net), who interviewed Palfrey in July. Heller said Palfrey was "vibrant and filled with future plans." Heller finds it inconceivable that Palfrey would have taken her own life.
The Florida police and Palfrey's mother have confirmed Palfrey's death. According to Florida police officer, Captain Jeffrey Young, Palfrey was found hanging from a nylon rope in a storage shed close to the home of her 76 year old mother, Blanche Palfrey, who discovered her daughter's body.
I, for one, am hopeful the public - particularly the blogger community - will hold the authorities accountable for a thorough, open and honest investigation of this bizarre and tragic occurrence. In this highly political year, egregious acts are possible - if not probable - particularly when the futures and fortunes of the powerful are at stake.
Addendum: May 2, 2008
I read the following smoking gun article, as provided by a commenter on another site. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0501081palfrey1.html The documents are important to review. In thinking it through (absent supportive statistics), I wonder how many potential inmates state they have had thoughts of suicide prior to their incarceration to garner sympathy from the court. Perhaps this is a common ploy. I'll contact defense attorneys to try to find out.
Any attorneys out there who can shed some light?
Secondly, to Drew Terry, who commented below, thank you. I read the same Time.com article earlier today click here and sent Dan Moldea an email. I'm attempting to correspond with Moldea, who worked with Palfrey, knew her personally, and who stated (see below) that he categorically accepts Palfrey's suicide as true absent any investigation of his own. I've asked Moldea for an interview to discuss his conclusion prior to investigation.
According to the Time.com article, Moldea "last year examined Palfrey's phone records and discovered the name of Vitter, a Republican, as a client of Palfrey's escort service — Pamela Martin & Associates — the last time he saw Palfrey in person was less than week before her conviction on prostitution charges on April 15." Moldea said:
"A friend and I met with Jeanne and we had a sushi lunch near the courtroom." She was upbeat and hopeful. She felt the prosecution had not made the case and that she was going to walk. She was hopeful to the end. But, when the jury came in with her conviction, she reportedly was taken aback. When I heard that I knew that, for her, it was all over. There is no question in my mind that she took her own life."
Much thanks for all the responses here and for the valuable information everyone's provided. I tend to shy away from conjecture. This article was an effort to engage the vast brain-trust of the blogger community, of which I am a part.
As we know all too well in cases and issues of greater import than this, corporate media cannot be trusted to report the truth. It lives in the land of Reverend Wright and flag pins. Interesting that a story with potential salacious interest like the "suicide" of "the DC Madam" has led to no investigative reporting on the part of corporate media. That for me is an indicator that corporate media has been told be "hush." They're not speculating at all about Ms. Palfrey's death - which would likely draw an audience. Unusual for a media that thrives on speculation, innuendo, and inflammatory "news." They've quietly buried Ms. Palfrey - along with her list.