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Searching for answers, the siblings pored over the copy of Jack's will left on the kitchen table. The document contained several peculiar requests. No obituary or memorial service, and the crematorium was instructed to dispose of his ashes. (Jack had once watched a neighbor get evicted, Shultz recalled, and was horrified to see the urn containing the tenant's husband's ashes lying in the street.) Beech had designated the director of Laradon Hall as his executor and asked her not to inform the Elks chapter in Evergreen of his death for six months.
Why not tell the Elks? And what was the connection to Laradon? Jack Beech had a developmentally disabled half-sister, ten years his junior, but she'd never received any services from the organization. Shultz and Dave Beech decided to pay a visit to Laradon Hall to see if they could obtain his ashes — and to find out what the people there knew about their brother.
They met with Annie Green on August 6. Accounts of what was said during the meeting vary. Laradon's attorneys maintain that Green disclosed that she'd received a $100,000 check from the deceased, but his siblings say she failed to mention the donation; they claim they only found out about it from the register of Jack's checkbook. It's clear, though, that Green showed them the envelope Jack Beech had left for her, and that the words on that envelope — WAIT UNTILL YOU HEAR FROM CORONER — deeply troubled her visitors.
The Beech siblings say they're not upset that Jack decided to leave his estate to Laradon Hall. They wonder, though, how anyone could have seen those words and not respond in some way — arrange for a welfare check, maybe, call 911 or the lawyer listed on the will, a suicide hotline, somebody.
"If my brother was killed in a car wreck and decided to do this with his money, we'd have been so happy for Laradon," says Dave Beech. "We'd be sitting around saying this was so typical of Jack and so wonderful. But under these circumstances, this is very difficult for us. They had warning signs on one hand and dollar signs on the other. If you ignore the warning signs, what should be the consequences?"
Two weeks after the meeting with Green, members of the Beech family filed objections in Jefferson County's probate court, seeking to prevent Laradon from collecting Jack's estate. In effect, the family contends that the organization had advance notice of Jack's suicide plans but did nothing to intervene because it stood to benefit from his death. In court filings, their attorney has scolded Laradon for rushing to get Green appointed as the estate administrator, knowing a challenge to the will was pending, and for the unusual timing of the cashing of the $100,000 check — which was deposited in a bank not on August 1 but on August 6, approximately thirty minutes after Green's meeting with the Beech family ended. Laradon shouldn't profit from its conduct, Beech's family insists, any more than a scheming heir should be allowed to benefit from bumping off an aged uncle.
"They should have nothing," says Shultz. She believes that Laradon, an organization that frequently deals with children and adults who have mental-health issues, has no excuse for ignoring what she regards as an obvious cry for help. "They should have known what the words meant," she adds. "They should be held to a higher standard."
Through her lawyers, Green declined to comment on the case. Laradon has issued a written statement expressing sympathy for the family but denying any responsibility for Beech's death: "Laradon had no knowledge that Mr. Beech intended to take his own life. It is Laradon's intention to continue honoring Mr. Beech's memory and his decision to benefit Laradon."
Just how Beech arrived at his final decisions may never be known. Suicide is rarely a straightforward affair. People thinking about killing themselves don't always exhibit obvious symptoms of depression or despair. They're not all recluses or mental patients with a long history of self-destructive behavior. Some are even the life of the party.
But experts say that potential suicides often signal their intentions — sometimes to strangers. Many suicides are preventable, if people only pay attention. And Jack Beech, in his own tricky way, showed many of the classic signs of suicide well before the night he ended it all.
Friends remember Beech as a loner, a maverick, a dancer to that different drum. He even had his own arrangements with the time-space continuum: There was clock time, and there was Beech time, meaning he could be relied on to show up for dinner a couple of hours later than he said he would. He entered people's lives at unexpected times and vanished just as abruptly. For Beech, if life was worth living, it was worth living fast.
Born in Akron, Ohio, the son of an over-the-road trucker, Jack came to Colorado in 1964, at the age of nine, after his parents' marriage unraveled. His mother, Elizabeth Malonson, brought him and his younger siblings to live with their cousins; at one point, there were nine kids in the same house, scrambling for attention.
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.
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.
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?!
Pretty sure I would cash that. Anyone gonna commit suicide is gonna do it no matter what if they are serious