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D,C. Madam Hangs Herself; Fitting end to a Life of Swinging

WWW- Deborah Jeane Palfrey took extreme measures, even by Washington standards, when it came to defending herself against charges of running a high-priced call girl ring under the guise of an escort service.

Standing before the nation’s news media last year, the woman who became known as the D.C. Madam at once denied any involvement in illegal prostitution and threatened to make public her client list — to sell it, in fact, as a way of financing her legal bills.

Almost exactly a year later, after being convicted at trial and awaiting a prison sentence — a theoretical maximum of 55 years, though in all likelihood something more like 4 to 6 — it seems Ms. Palfrey took the most extreme measure of all.

According to The St. Petersburg Times and other news outlets, she was found dead in a shed outside her mother’s house in Tarpon Springs, Fla., and the police believe after a preliminary investigation that she hanged herself.

Handwritten notes were found at the scene, and she left other chilling clues with the biographer Dan Moldea, who spoke to her last year, according to Time magazine:

“She wasn’t going to jail, she told me that very clearly. She told me she would commit suicide,” author Dan Moldea told Time soon after news broke … “She had done time once before [for prostitution],” Moldea recalls. “And it damn near killed her. She said there was enormous stress — it made her sick, she couldn’t take it, and she wasn’t going to let that happen to her again.”

Though she set Washington abuzz with her threat to spark a hundred sex scandals by revealing her customers’ identities, but the big fish who were rumored to be among them evaporated one by one.

In the end, only three Washington bold-face names turned up in the roster: Randall Tobias, a deputy secretary of state, who immediately resigned; Harlan Ullman, a military analyst who helped design the “shock and awe” strategy used in the Iraq invasion; and Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, who has so far avoided resignation, though he faces a tough re-election campaign in 2010.


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