D.C. Madam’s Suicide Notes Reveal Desperate Fear of Jail Led to Hanging

The notes left by “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jean Palfrey to her mother and sister indicate that she committed suicide to avoid six years in jail.

Palfrey hung herself by a nylon rope in a shed next to her mother’s house. Blanche Palfrey, 76, discovered her daughter hanging from a metal beam inside the shed.

The notes should focus the public debate on how we currently treat prostitution in sentencing, click here

For the notes, click here.

9 thoughts on “D.C. Madam’s Suicide Notes Reveal Desperate Fear of Jail Led to Hanging”

  1. mespo: I didn’t say that *I* believe it wasn’t suicide, I just answered your question by pointing out that there are indeed many people who doubt it was suicide. I didn’t say that I thought her mom and sister were high-fiving each other over the press coverage either, I just said that allowing their unfairly dogged and persecuted dead loved one to have a voice by letting people read why she killed herself could be one of the few positive things to come out of what the press and government did to her. They ruined her life for no good reason and if Palfrey got to say one last thing to remind people of that, it’s better than muting her by hiding the letters. If they were showing pictures of her dead body swinging from a rope you might have a point, but those letters are her voice speaking from the grave and extending her life in a way.

  2. gf:

    I certainly cannot argue with your rendition of recent history.

  3. Mespo again: I agree with you, you should probably beleive your physician. But what kind of history does the government have in telling the truth? Is it as credible as this physician? I think not. Look how long it took to bring the possibility of foul play w/ Pat Tillman to the forefront…and it’s still basically unresolved. When the government has so much to lose (regarding the exposing of several “Johns”), you best believe im looking for Zebras, Rhinos, and Tigers.

  4. gf:

    Well it’s interesting, but barring signs of struggle or other physical evidence, there is nothing to rule out suicide, the most obvious cause, and substitute murder. Conspiracy theories abound, but most are smoke and mirrors. Most people who commit suicide perform acts in contravention of their ultimate goal. Her fatalistic statements do prompt some thought, but they are typical of the thoughts of a depressed person and especially one who believes they have offended some big fish. I learned from a physician long ago that in making a differential diagnosis you should be guided by this maxim, “when you are on the prairie and you hear hoofs, don’t look for zebras, look for horses.”

  5. Mespo:

    There is a decent amount of (circumstantial) evidence pointing to murder. First, as a basic criminology principal, women do not hang themselves. In fact, 90%+ of women kill themselves by an overdose with pills. The fact that Palfrey AND one of her ’employees’ both hung themselves raises some preliminary questions.

    Second, while there are interviews and statements by Palfrey indicating that she did not want to go to jail and would have rather killed herself, the LATEST interviews state otherwise. For example, in a radio interview this past March, Palfrey said the exact opposite…here are some quotes:

    “No I’m not planning to commit suicide. I’m planning on going into court and defending myself vigorously and exposing the government.” And…

    “Not to be concerned, I have no intention of letting anyone buy me off or make any kind of a deal with me….and I’m not planning to commit suicide either,” said Palfrey on a separate occasion.

    Third, the person who is arguably closest to Palfrey, her mother, says that she showed absolutely no signs of suicide. According to an AP report, “Blanche Palfrey (her mother) had no sign that her daughter was suicidal…”

    Also, the manager of the building were Palfrey was found had various encounters with Palfrey in the days preceding her death. The manager said that Palfrey had told him of her fears that a contract hit was out on her life. “She insinuated that there is a contract out for her and I fully believe they succeeded,” he stated. According to the manger, Palfrey left for her mother’s house with some suitcases and a box. “She had one white paper file box that she told me had some important paper with her and then she just kind of raised her eyebrows like you’re supposed to think oh yeah, that’s all the information that she had on her business in Washington,” her building manager said. If Palfrey was planning to commit suicide just three days later then why did she leave with several suitcases and a box of files?

    I’m really just scratching the surface here. Palfrey had articulated as far back as 1991 that any “suicide” would likely be murder. Also, was she really so scared to serve some time in prison? She served 18 months of time no to long ago. Further, would she really come out of jail “penniless” like her suicide note state? Probably not as there was a multi-million dollar book deal being inked. Anyway, just some food for thought.

    Geraldo had a good piece about other possible theories that aired on Fox News not to long ago. Here is the link:

  6. Trixie:

    “Yes, some people do seriously doubt the manner and cause of death…”

    Where is the evidence for that assertion? Was in not suicide? And if you think it helps a family to have the inner most thoughts of a dead member broadcast throughout the nation, I shudder to think of the “family” you are envisioning.

  7. Yes, some people do seriously doubt the manner and cause of death, and I think when a grave injustice has been done, as she said in her notes with the government’s lynch mob mentality, it probably *does* help the family to have HER voice heard of how severely this impacted her life and willingness to continue living it. She wasn’t just afraid of the years in jail, she was RUINED and said as much that there would be nothing to look forward to when she eventually got out. They ruined her life, took all of her money and her many clients are all happy as clams living high on the hog without any consequences the same as they always have/will.

    I think it’s important for people to read those letters and consider ALL of the consequences she and her family were dealt; it’s not just about jail, it’s about years of legal problems, financial devastation, gender discrimination, and complete injustice. It’s a crying shame.

  8. Thanks for following up today, JT.

    Like mespo, I think there is more to this ‘story’ AND in the telling of it than we have yet to hear.

    But I’ll leave the psychological analysis to the profilers and to the people who knew her best.

  9. I am wondering about the need to release the intimate details of this desperate woman’s last minutes alive and her private expressions of emotion to her family. Does anyone seriously doubt the manner and cause of death? Does experiencing her anguish serve some governmental interest that I am unaware of? Does this reliving of the tragedy aid her family in the grief process? I agree with you that it should focus public attention on the draconian way we treat victim-less crimes, or at least crimes in which both parties are willing participants. However, I am sure this was not the government’s motivation, and I can only wonder if it was mandated by statute or simply done just for purposes of providing an example to the public>

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