Thursday, May 1, 2008

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: DC Madam Murdered?

Larry Flint thinks so and I can guarantee this will be a conspiracy theory for the next few decades. Deborah Palfrey was found dead in her mother's shed, hung by a nylon rope from the ceiling. Her mom claims she wasn't suicidal although Palfrey once told a friend she would kill herself rather than go to jail. A suicide note or two apparently was left at the scene. Flint states she was about to give up a couple more big names to avoid going to jail and this is why he thinks someone did her in.

Family reaction to suicide is an an odd thing. Many refuse to believe their child would do such a thing. Even if their loved one was severely depressed, left a note in their own handwriting, and is found shot with their own gun in a room locked from the inside, the parents may still believe their child was murdered! Perhaps it is the guilt of not preventing the death that makes them refuse to see reality or it is possible they feel guilty that they raised a child who did not value their life or their relationships enough to stay around.

Deborah Palfrey at the age of 52 may well have not liked the radical change in lifestyle her imprisonment would have brought. She lived quite the high life off of her prostitution service as the charges were no doubt quite high considering the clientele. Of course, if you believe Ms. Palfrey, she had no clue the women were providing sexual services to their "dates." These men just became repeat customers because the women were such charming conversationalists. This is ludicrous, of course, for no escort service or massage parlor keeps a girl in their employ who doesn't make their clients "happy" and so we know Ms. Palfrey is a liar.

But, liar or not, Ms. Palfrey's character at this point is not the question. If one were to look at the question of whether she took her own life or not, the important matter would be whether she could tolerate the thought of prison, whether she viewed going there as yet another game she could manipulate or whether she viewed the time inside as a total loss of control. Interviews and a study or her past behavior ought to be able to determine if she was the type to have taken her own life in this situation. Then the police will determine whether she had the ability to hang herself from the ceiling of the shed and the opportunity to do so. They will ascertain whether any one else could have hung her. The suicide notes will be examined to determine if she wrote them. Behavioral and forensic evidence should put the question of whether she was murdered to rest.

My guess is she killed herself. It is a rare occurrence when a hanging turns out to be a murder (although it has happened). But, because this is such a high profile case and Ms. Palfrey could have done more damage to her clients were she to give up certain names in the future, Flint's assertions that Ms. Palfrey was murdered will no doubt gain steam on the Internet and we will have a numerous sites claiming she was the victim of murder by people in high places. It will be interesting to read the scenarios of how this "murder" was carried out and what the "evidence" will be that proves she was the victim of knowing too much for her own good.


sonias said...

from what i read, i'd go with murder, and perhaps those big names had alot to lose!!

Levi said...

I'm sure that the suicide notes left at the scene, will be analyzed by handwriting experts. That will hold the key.

Pat Brown said...

Sonias, it may be more exciting for this to be murder, but chances are it is suicide. The evidence should prove this out or not. Yes, Levi, with TWO suicide notes, the handwriting experts should be able to determine if she wrote them. Of course, some would say she wrote them with a gun to her head....

Interestingly, two suicide notes is usually indeed an indicator of suicide. Sometimes, we just can't get all of our feelings out in one. It would be quite unusual for TWO fake suicide notes to exist. Killers have a hard enough time putting together one, much less two. I had a case where a teenage girl left a five page suicide note full of teenage girl angst and loopy girl writing and still the family insisted the uncle had killed the girl and written the note himself! I, even having a teenage daughter and being a criminal profiler, would have found it quite a feat to pull off such a clever suicide note fake...but still the family refuses to accept the girl wrote it.

Preraphazon said...

The two suicide notes does seem to me to be the biggest indication she did it herself. But it's not out of the question that someone had a gun to her head as she wrote them, didn't like the first one and had her do another one.

It seems to me that her future life might have been filled with book and movie deals and may not be all that grim, so I wouldn't discount the likeihood of murder. Without knowing her past mental makeup, it should be thoroughly investigated. She seemed more of a survivor to me, based on what lengths she went to to exist well. And survivors don't normally off themselves.

P.S. I can't imagine why she would HESITATE to give up all the big names in order to save herself UNLESS there had been threats on her life. I mean, why? These aren't friends. She probably loathes each and every one of the johns.