Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What to do

Where would you take a $100,000 check that is also a suicide note - to the cops or to the bank?
John Francis Beech had counted down the days on a calendar in his garage, crossing out each day leading to the final day, on which he'd scrawled the word "OUT." But first he had one last bit of business, one final appointment to keep.
Beech, a 53-year-old retired Coors manager, drove to Laradon Hall in north Denver. He'd called a few days earlier to arrange a meeting with Annie Green, the acting director of Laradon, a nonprofit that operates an alternative school and other programs for people with developmental disabilities. Beech had never met Green, but he explained on the phone that he was planning to leave his entire estate to Laradon. He was a member of a local Elks club, he added, which had adopted Laradon as its primary charity.
Green readily agreed to see him. But then she was unexpectedly called away by a death in her family. Although she tried to cancel all her appointments, Beech showed up on July 17 anyway. He handed a large white envelope to the receptionist and asked that it be delivered to Green.
Laradon's director found the envelope in her mailbox when she returned to work four days later. On the back, in handwritten block letters, were six words: WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR FROM CORONER. And below that, in parentheses: PLEASE DON’T CALL EVERYTHING IS OK.
Despite the plea to wait, Green opened the envelope. Inside was the original of Beech's Last Will and Testament, which left all his worldly goods to Laradon Hall.
The envelope contained keys to Beech's house in Lakewood and instructions about selling the house and its contents, closing his bank account and collecting funds owed to him by a bail bondsman and others. There was also a check made out to Laradon for $100,000 and dated August 1 — two weeks after the day Beech delivered the documents.
Having ignored the first message on the envelope, Green disregarded the second, too. She would later claim to have left voice-mail messages for Beech twice over the next two days, to thank him for his startling generosity — and to see if everything was indeed okay. But Beech didn't call back, and Green apparently made no further efforts to contact him.
The postdated check went into a safe at Laradon.
On August 1, the day the check became negotiable, Lakewood police officers entered Beech's house, not far from the Bear Creek Golf Course. They'd been summoned there by a neighbor, who'd complained of the smell of death seeping from the property.
Taped to Beech's front door was a handwritten note: COME BACK ON THE 1ST THANKS. Inside, taped to a hallway wall, was another note, affixed like a warning sign: STOP CALL THE CORONER THANKS.
Beech's body was inside a white van parked at the far edge of the back yard. He'd rigged up a hosefrom the exhaust and tried to shield the apparatus from neighbors' view with a blue tarp. He'd left his wallet, keys, car titles, a copy of the will and other documents neatly arranged on a kitchen table. It was a very polite suicide, designed to do minimal damage to the value of his house and possessions and generate the least fuss possible. But there was no note explaining why.

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