Friday, November 30, 2007

Lady in the White Mercedes

A few weeks ago I was sent to the parking garage of an exclusive resort where a woman was sitting in her white Mercedes with the engine running. A garden hose was protruding from the exhaust pipe leading into the rear window. A citizen approached the woman and asked what she was doing. The woman replied she was fine and asked to be left alone. The citizen yanked the hose out of the tailpipe and the woman drove off. The person memorized the license plate and called police.

By the time I arrived with another officer, the woman was gone but we looke up her address using the license plate number. We drove to her house and found her inside relaxing on a couch. Her husband answered the door and we told him what had just happened with his wife. He nodded his head and told us she had been suffering from severe depression and was under a doctor's care. He called her psychiatrist and assured us he would get her the help she needed. The whole time we were there the woman kept repeating, "It's just a misunderstanding. I'm fine." They did not want any assistance from us or from the fire department so we left them to work out their problems.

Last night I heard an attempted suicide call come over the radio but I was en route to a car theft in progress so I didn't hear all the details. After I was finished with my auto theft call I was asked to come take photographs of the suicide scene.

As I pulled up to the dead end street in an upscale desert community, I immediately recognized the older white Mercedes. I could see two garden hoses coming out of the rear window connected to the car's exhaust pipe. There was crime scene tape strung around the car and nearby desert area. As I approached I saw a white towel on the ground outside the driver's door and a large pool of blood. A pair of women's shoes and glasses were placed neatly on the ground next to the towel.

Two homicide detectives were on the scene conducting an unknown death investigation. They told me a resident found the woman sitting in her car with the engine running. She saw the hoses and went back inside her house and called police. When officers arrived they found her lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. A search of her car revealed a two page suicide note, a handgun case, a box of ammunition, and a receipt for the gun purchase. A separate receipt showed she paid for a one hour shooting lesson at an indoor range. The gun and lesson were purchased earlier in the day.

As I took photographs of the scene, the woman's cell phone rang again and again. The detective verified the missed calls were from her husband and children. Officers and a Sergeant drove to the victim's house to notify her husband of her death. He answered the door and asked stoically, "Is this about my wife?". The officers replied, "Yes." He then asked, "Is she dead?" and the he was told, "Yes." He was not surprised since she had apparently attempted this many times in the past. Their teenage children were very upset by the news even though they were aware of their mom's depression and history with suicide attempts.

I'll never understand what makes a person want to take their own life. From outward appearances, this woman seemed to have a good life. It's a shame she wasn't able to conquer whatever demons she had inside her. It's another her husband and kids will probably associate the holiday season with her unexplainable death.


At November 30, 2007 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, I'm so sad for that woman and her family. I'm also sorry that you were there, and that you had to deal with such a tragic situation. Keep safe. P.S. I love you....Mom

At November 30, 2007 5:50 PM, Blogger 5150Wife said...

Sounds like her husband knew it was just a matter of time. Still, very sad for all involved.

Odd, how meticulous she was in making sure it appeared to be a suicide, how well she documented everything. Guess she didn't want anyone else to be blamed.

Stay safe out there!

At November 30, 2007 7:42 PM, Blogger Scott said...


At December 02, 2007 8:58 AM, Blogger Flash Gordon said...

The garden hose from the tail pipe to the car window got my attention. That's how my father did it when I was nine years old.

That event has not prevented me for having a good life but did teach me one thing: when they are determined to do it, they will eventually do it.

At December 02, 2007 2:22 PM, Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Here is what it takes:

Loss of hope.
The feeling that no one really cares.
The thought that the world would be better off without you, and it wouldn't make much of a difference if you were gone.
A bit of selfishness.

At December 03, 2007 2:45 PM, Blogger Annette said...

I have suffered with depression, and I an tell you now, it's isn't pleasant.
Your brain goes into this deep,cave like existence and it is so dark you cannot see your way out.
You do think of death, all the time, sometimes your own, sometimes somebody elses.You used to get angry now you haven't the strength to get up in the mornings.
You do think the world would be better off without you as you have nothing to offer it, you never have had.

That is very sad. I don't know what the answer is, but I am sorry you were there.

At December 07, 2007 2:03 AM, Blogger SnapShawt said...

This is a good example of the following MYTH: If they really wanted to do it, they would just do it.

Obviously, when she was stopped in the parking garage by the citizen it wasn't likely she'd be able to pull it off as SOMEONE would notice. Some would say, "Oh she's crying out for attention, she's not really wanting to do it." Fast forward to the next night and she's gone.

Depression is a serious matter and should never be taken lightly, and it sounds like the husband was doing all he could to help her. Very sad indeed.

whimsical hit it on the head, and all those factors were obviously in place for her.

Stay safe man.

At December 07, 2007 9:44 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Yep. The last one we had, an 18 year old kid who ate a .45 bullet, I just shook my head and said "you damn fool."

At December 07, 2007 9:59 AM, Blogger Aileen said...

I've lived with depression for years. The best thing I ever did was get on medication and STAY on it. It can be frustrating finding one that works but if you stick it out you'll find it. Many people fool themselves into thinking they are cured and get off their meds. Never a wise choice to do on your own.
Years ago I tried taking a bunch of sleeping pills to end it all. I woke up from a good sleep hours later and was mad as hell I didn't even do that right. I'm grateful now that it didn't work.
In this case it's sad that the family didn't try to have her committed long enough to get the help she needed.

At May 31, 2008 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've all been there. We see and do things others can't imagine. Yet we put on a uniform every day and go out there ready, willing and able to do what needs to be done. We see people at their absolute worst. We cannot fix in five minutes the problems that took years to develop but some believe we can.

Although we cannot look into the future our experiences tell us what to expect and almost always we're right. After twenty-two years on the job you get to know human nature and what we are capable of. Good luck with your career.

At February 27, 2018 3:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad story. The real shame is that she had children. If you are mentally ill enough to become an addict or commit suicide, you shouldn't bring kids into the picture. That's my only beef. I have depression & 4 anxiety disorders and would NEVER subject children to that, either genetically or through modeling as a parent.

While it's unfortunate she's gone, it's a fine line ethically when dealing with consenting adults who wish to end their lives. I believe they should be allowed to make that decision if they've exhausted all other options. You can never know what someone's going through unless you're living in their mind & body. I just wish people didn't have to resort to violent measures & could access humane, painless medical forms of euthanasia instead.

Thanks for sharing, and for putting yourself out there to do the hard stuff.


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