Lucky Jack plowed his winnings into rental properties in Golden and Denver. He owned several duplexes and apartment buildings over a period of years, but dealing with demanding and irresponsible tenants wore him down. After he discovered one unit had been converted into a paintball range by the occupant, he decided to get out of the business. He sold off the properties and was once more at loose ends.

He took exotic jobs for a few weeks or months at a time. He didn't need the money, he told his siblings; he just wanted to find out what the business was like, maybe start one of his own. He worked as an exterminator and for a crime-scene cleanup operation. He even took off for a coal mine in Wyoming.

"He'd get bored," says Dave Beech. "Looking back on it now, I wonder if he was manic-depressive. He was so restless. He worked at a coal mine because he wanted to drive the train that loads and unloads the coal."

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.

As his fiftieth birthday loomed, Beech decided that he wanted to ride a bicycle across America. He rode from Denver to Chicago, down to Florida, back through Texas, then abruptly stopped in New Mexico, got on a bus and came home. He never explained why he didn't finish the trip.

Last spring he was talking about buying a garage and detailing cars; he paid enough for his own vehicles' care that he figured there must be money in it. But first he wanted to visit the Henry Ford Museum and a car auction in the upper Midwest. On May 1, his 53rd birthday, his sister Carole left a phone message for him.

"He didn't call me back for three days," she says. "And that's how we found out he was in trouble."

Jack told her he had just spent several days in jail in Battle Creek, Michigan. He was facing a felony charge. He didn't believe he'd done anything wrong, and he was absolutely furious about it.

The way Jack told the story, the whole thing was crazy and unjust. He was minding his own business, heading down the road in the clunky white van he used for long trips because he could sleep in back, when the cops pulled him over for — get this — driving too slow. A flimsy pretext, maybe, for stopping a van with out-of-state plates, but what can you do?

They asked to search, and he said okay, forgetting about the handgun wrapped in a coat under the seat. Years before, Beech had been mugged at gunpoint in Las Vegas, an experience that convinced him to bring a weapon along whenever he went on the road with cash in his pocket. The gun wasn't even loaded, he told Shultz, but that didn't make any difference to the Michigan gendarmes. They charged him with violating local conceal-carry laws and tossed him in the pokey.

He had a couple thousand dollars in cash when they arrested him. The bail was three thousand, more than that of some of the wife-beaters in the same jail. He had lots of cash in Colorado, but all his contact numbers were on his cell phone, which they'd taken away from him. And the local bail bondsmen — get this — wouldn't take a collect phone call! So he spent several days in the tank, doing magic tricks and making new friends, until he found a bondsman who would answer the phone and could be persuaded that Jack Beech, a high roller and man of property, was good for a measly grand or two.

It was insane, really — but not the only time Beech would find himself oddly pinched for cash. He'd also had trouble buying a new pickup truck. Most of his money was tied up in fixed investments, so he went to his bank for a loan. He had a million dollars in certificates of deposit at that bank, he told his sister, but they turned him down anyway, saying he didn't have enough liquidity. He was livid about that, but even more burned about the arrest. It meant several trips back to Michigan for hearings and a possible felony conviction.

Shultz wonders if the arrest could have been a "trigger event" for her brother, the kind of traumatic experience that sends a potential suicide into a downward spiral. Beech had a court date in Michigan on August 5, a week after his death. In the written instructions he left at Laradon, he asked Green to call the bail bondsman and collect $500 of his money before that date.

But Susan Harris, the family's attorney in the probate case, says it's likely that Beech would have received nothing worse than a fine and probation for the gun charge. And parts of his plan were apparently already in motion before his arrest. He had first visited Laradon Hall in February, five months before he left the package for Green; he'd told the receptionist his name and informed her that he was planning to give all of his money to Laradon. The receptionist noted that he was wearing an Elks shirt. The development coordinator was away from her desk at the time, and Beech left without talking to anyone else. The will that Green eventually received was executed in March — several weeks before his trip to Michigan.

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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