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, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/01/dc-madam-dead-in-apparent_n_99653.html, 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, Palfrey seemed to view Britton's suicide as a 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 subject 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 in her "black book."
Moments ago I spoke with Arizona-based progressive radio host, Meria Heller (meria.net), who interviewed Palfrey in July. Heller claims 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 was the first to discover 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.