Monday Mystery: A Suicide In Belle Chasse

On Valentine's Day, 1975, a couple found a the body of a young man, hanging from a persimmon tree, near Belle Chasse, Louisana. He was only 16 or 17, and clearly a suicide: A glass jar full of his last words sat at the base of the tree.

The lengthy note was addressed to "mom and dad", and filled with psychiatry, Emile Durkheim, and his own terrible sense of alienation. The writing seems too complex for a teenager, but I suppose a teenager who's read Durkheim would be ahead of the curve.

An aside to the local police who would inevitably find the body read thus:
"You are bound to preserve domestic peace and order. If you pursue who I was (and spend hundreds of dollars) you will accomplish little. There are no legal consequences of my death or any kind of entanglements. All that can happen is that you will shatter the domestic peace and order of two innocent lives. Do not deprive them of the hope that their 'missing' son will return . . .Let me be, let it be as if I wasn't ever here. Simply cremate me as John Doe."
The note did not say why he elected to end his own life, but only alluded to a fear that living on would be worse for all involved.
"It is best if I cease to live, quietly, than risk that later I will break and shatter by violence or linger years under care. I implore you to see a psychiatrist in order that you might understand my death and my life. Ask thoroughly about what I was and you will see that it is not tragic that I am gone, but more natural than if I continued."
Websleuths and the rest of the usual suspects have combed the Charley Project, looking for likely matches, but nothing has thus far panned out. One later article that's quoted in the WS thread, but which I can't find a working link to, mentions that some missing persons records were sent down to Louisiana for checking in connection to a suicide that might be this one. The article -- or at least teh quote -- doesn't specify, unfortunately.

A few have questioned the ethics of even looking. Whoever he was, he clearly did not want to be identified. Were it a safely historical mystery, I'd say you could detect with impunity, but 1975 is not necessarily long enough ago to be sure the parents he was concerned about have passed away. On the one hand, American courts have generally held that your right to privacy expires with you. On the other hand, humans have always been a bit superstitious about observing last wishes of the deceased. After all, if you ignore his last wishes, who's to say other people won't ignore yours?

It appears the young man's request for anonymity will be honored after all, as more recent requests for information have gotten the answer that all records pertaining to the case were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

Check the category label for more Monday Mysteries!



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