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Where would you take a $100,000 check that is also a suicide note - to the cops or to the bank?

John Francis Beech had a date with destiny last summer. He counted down the days on a calendar in his garage, crossing out each day leading to the final Sunday in July, on which he'd scrawled the word "OUT." But first he had one last bit of business, one final appointment to keep.

On July 17, Beech, a 53-year-old retired Coors manager, drove to Laradon Hall in north Denver. He'd called a few days earlier to arrange a meeting with Annie Green, the acting director of Laradon, a nonprofit that operates an alternative school and other programs for people with developmental disabilities. Beech had never met Green, but he explained on the phone that he was planning to leave his entire estate to Laradon. He was a member of a local Elks club, he added, which had adopted Laradon as its primary charity.

Green readily agreed to see him. But then she was unexpectedly called away by a death in her family. Although she tried to cancel all her appointments, Beech showed up on July 17 anyway. He handed a large white envelope to the receptionist and asked that it be delivered to Green.

John Beech and mother Elizabeth Malonson at a Christmas celebration
John Beech and mother Elizabeth Malonson at a Christmas celebration
Beech visited Laradon Hall last July, ten days before leaving a warning note for visitors to his Lakewood home.
Beech visited Laradon Hall last July, ten days before leaving a warning note for visitors to his Lakewood home.

Laradon's director found the envelope in her mailbox when she returned to work four days later. On the back, in handwritten block letters, were six words: WAIT UNTILL YOU HEAR FROM CORONER. And below that, in parentheses: PLEASE DONT CALL EVERYTHING IS OK.

Despite the plea to wait, Green opened the envelope. Inside was the original of Beech's Last Will and Testament, which left all his worldly goods to Laradon Hall.

The envelope contained keys to Beech's house in Lakewood and instructions about selling the house and its contents, closing his bank account and collecting funds owed to him by a bail bondsman and others. There was also a check made out to Laradon for $100,000 and dated August 1 — two weeks after the day Beech delivered the documents.

Having ignored the first message on the envelope, Green disregarded the second, too. She would later claim to have left voice-mail messages for Beech twice over the next two days, to thank him for his startling generosity — and to see if everything was indeed okay. But Beech didn't call back, and Green apparently made no further efforts to contact him.

The postdated check went into a safe at Laradon.


On August 1, the day the check became negotiable, Lakewood police officers entered Beech's house, not far from the Bear Creek Golf Course. They'd been summoned there by a neighbor, who'd complained of the smell of death seeping from the property.

Taped to Beech's front door was a handwritten note: COME BACK ON THE 1ST THANKS. Inside, taped to a hallway wall, was another note, affixed like a warning sign: STOP CALL THE CORONER THANKS.

Beech's body was inside a white van parked at the far edge of the back yard. He'd rigged up a hose from the exhaust and tried to shield the apparatus from neighbors' view with a blue tarp. He'd left his wallet, keys, car titles, a copy of the will and other documents neatly arranged on a kitchen table. It was a very polite suicide, designed to do minimal damage to the value of his house and possessions and generate the least fuss possible. But there was no note explaining why — just stop call the coroner thanks.

Investigators snapped pictures of the scene, including the garage calendar showing the countdown that ended with "OUT" on July 27. But receipts found in the house indicated Beech was still alive on the evening of July 28; he'd apparently purchased additional materials for his death rig that day, then treated himself to a banana split at a Sonic drive-in. At some point in the early hours of July 29, he died from carbon monoxide inhalation.

Beech had a mother, three sisters and a brother. The news of his death left them and other relatives reeling in shock and bewilderment. Jack, as he was known to his younger siblings, had always been the family's pillar of strength — the oldest, the most confident, the one who was the life of the party. He collected beautiful cars and performed magic tricks in bars; he had money, globe-trotting adventures and lots of girlfriends. He'd never shown signs of depression and, as far as they knew, had never been treated for mental illness. He'd never talked about suicide around them — except to express outrage when an old friend took his own life in 2007. Why, Jack had seethed, didn't the guy come to him for help?

But Jack was also an extremely private person. He'd disappear for weeks on a trip or something, then abruptly resurface. The family knew there were parts of his life he simply didn't share with them, and maybe not with anyone. "If you needed help, he'd give you the shirt off his back," says his brother, David Beech, a news director for a television station in Reno, Nevada. "But if you tried to help him with anything, he'd refuse. He was like a father; he was our father."

Carole Shultz, one of Beech's sisters, had talked to him frequently last summer, right up until two weeks before he died. "He was calling me all the time," says Shultz, an airline employee who lives in Golden. "He would latch on to certain people. You wouldn't see him for months, then he'd show up and hang around until four in the morning. The last conversation we had, Jack's phone died. He had to get more minutes, and then he left a long, long message about all kinds of stuff. But it was nothing special."

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12 comments
Lourdes Rosario
Lourdes Rosario

Is hard to read minds, and ppl could be just being silly, and he has his mind set, so even if the person try to contact him, he would of done it anyway, his family claims knowing him, they are the ones that should of known something was different on the last days. There is no one to blame here, it happened.

Holly Elkins
Holly Elkins

So sad. Couldn't finish reading it. I would have done the right thing. I would have gone to his house and called the police. Regardless whether I know him or not. Horrible this women did nothing. She could have easily saved a life.

Latisha Lala Acklin
Latisha Lala Acklin

Sounds like he lived and died how he wanted. And it sounds like his family hardly knew him, so why would a stranger know what his words meant?!

Trent Dozier
Trent Dozier

Pretty sure I would cash that. Anyone gonna commit suicide is gonna do it no matter what if they are serious

 
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