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Suicide Notes of Deborah Jean Palfrey Reveal ‘D.C. Madam’ Hanged Herself to Avoid Jail

WWW- “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jean Palfrey wrote suicide notes to her mother and sister explaining that she hanged herself because she couldn’t bear the thought of a future in prison.

“I want you to know how very much I love and appreciate you,” Palfrey, 52, wrote in sprawling script to her mother in one of the notes released Monday by police. “However, I cannot live the next 6-8 years behind bars for what both you and I have come to regard as this ‘modern day lynching,’ only to come out of prison in my late 50s a broken, penniless and very much alone woman.”

Last month, a federal jury convicted Palfrey of money laundering and racketeering charges in connection to what prosecutors described as a high-end prostitution ring whose clients included members of Washington’s political and social elite.

She was awaiting sentencing July 24 and faced a maximum of 55 years in prison, though she was expected to receive a significantly lighter sentence than that.

The note was one of two left behind by Palfrey, one addressed to her mother, Blanche Palfrey, and the other to her younger sister Bobbie, according to Tarpon Springs, Fla., police. One bore the instructions: “Do not revive.”

Palfrey told her sister to “be strong for mom.”

“You must comprehend that there was no other way out, i.e., ‘exit strategy,’ other than the one I have chosen here,” she wrote. “Know I am at peace, with complete certainty, I believe Dad is standing watch — prepared to guide me into the light.”

Palfrey was staying at her mother’s home in a trailer park in Tarpon Springs, near Tampa, at the time of her death. Authorities said the letters were found by the night stand next to the bed where she had been sleeping.

“Copies have been supplied to the mother and sister, who confirmed that they were written by Deborah,” Police Capt. Jeffrey P. Young said in a statement.

Palfrey took her own life Thursday morning in a shed next to her mother’s house. Blanche Palfrey, who is 76, discovered her daughter hanging from a metal beam inside the shed and made a frantic call to 911.

The medical examiner has ruled that the cause of death was suicide by hanging; toxicology reports are pending, police said Monday.

Addressing rampant rumors that Palfrey was murdered in an attempt to keep her from revealing more names of her well-known clients, Young said detectives had found no evidence indicating that Palfrey died by any means other than suicide.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter and former deputy secretary of state Randall L. Tobias both were tied by investigators to Palfrey’s business.

She repeatedly denied that the escort service engaged in prostitution, saying that if any of the women performed sex acts for money, they did so without her knowledge.

Prosecutors said she ran the prostitution service for 13 years. The trial concluded without revealing many new details about the company or its clients. Vitter was among possible witnesses, but did not take the stand.

Palfrey had vowed that she would not go to prison, even telling a Washington writer that she would commit suicide first.


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