"Laradon Hall deals with the mental-health issues of the clients it serves," Harris continues. "They have psychologists on board, all kinds of mental-health professionals. They do assessment; they do treatment. But they never tried to save him. They didn't contact him. They didn't call a hotline. They didn't talk to one of their own psychologists. They stuck the check in their safe."

Green apparently did mention the unusual bequest to the chair of Laradon's board of directors, John Amen, at a regularly scheduled board meeting shortly after she received the package. But Amen, a state officer in the Elks, didn't know John Beech, and the conversation didn't lead to any followup.

Whether the family can keep Laradon from collecting the estate may be decided at a hearing in Jefferson County probate court next month. Harris acknowledges that there isn't much precedent for holding a nonprofit accountable for a suicide, particularly if that organization had no professional or medical relationship with the deceased.

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.

"We have no case like it anywhere in the country," she says. "Here you have an omission to act, with the knowledge that you may benefit from a person's death. What incentive do you have to try to prevent that from happening? The fact is, it's so easy to call and ask for a welfare check."

Scott Malonson thinks he knows why his cousin chose to take his package of keys and instructions to a complete stranger. "If he had gone to family, we would have intervened," he says. "I would have said, 'Dude, what are you doing?'"

Schultz believes her brother was too afraid of the social stigma associated with mental illness to confide in his family; shame might also explain his request not to inform the Elks of his death for six months. On Jack's refrigerator, she found one of Ashleigh Brilliant's "Pot-Shots," clipped from the newspaper, which asks, "Why does society punish us so severely for trying to escape from ourselves?"

After he learned of Beech's death, Scott Malonson volunteered to put together a memorial DVD. He assembled dozens of photographs of Jack, from childhood to baseball-cap-affixed middle age, into a montage with music: "If I Dream," by Elvis, "In My Life" and "Let It Be," by the Beatles. He spent four days on the project and finished it in a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. But he knew he had to do it for Jack.

"If you knew him, you have something he gave to you," he says. "Whether he helped you with something, taught you something, showed you some magic, there's a piece of him in you. He gave something to everyone he met — friendship, a smile, something."

Beech gave Laradon Hall everything he had left. The nonprofit has a policy of acknowledging donations in writing, but Laradon never sent Jack Beech a thank-you note for his generous check.

"There has never been one admission from them," says Dave Beech, "that maybe, just maybe, they did something wrong."

To see a clip of John Beech's memorial video, go to westword.com. Contact the author at alan.prendergast@westword.com.

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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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