D.C. Madam Found Dead of Apparent Suicide
Palfrey Was Recently Convicted on Federal Charges Stemming From Operating a Prostitution Service
By JUSTIN ROOD
May 1, 2008—
Florida police are investigating the apparent suicide of the so-called D.C. Madam, who was found dead in the Florida mobile home of the madam's mother Thursday.
The madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, was recently convicted on federal charges stemming from operating a prostitution service in the Washington, D.C. area with a number of high-profile clients. She was scheduled to be sentenced July 24.
Palfrey told ABC News last year she would never return to prison, after serving time in the 1990s for other prostitution-related charges. "I sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years."
Palfrey's 76-year-old mother, Blanche, found her daughter's body in a shed to the side of her home, according to police. Palfrey had hung herself with nylon rope from a beam in the shed's ceiling, the police said.
Blanche had looked in the shed after awaking from a nap to discover outside her house a tricycle she normally stored there, according to police. She called 911.
Hand-written notes were found near Palfrey's body which "describes the victim's intention to take her life," the police statement read.
Local police responding to a call late Thursday morning discovered the woman's body in a storage shed to the side of the home, according to a statement released by the Tarpon Springs, Fla. Police. Hand-written notes were found nearby which "describes the victim's intention to take her life," according to the statement.
Foul play does not appear to have been involved, according to the police. They did not immediately release the contents of the notes.
A jury in Washington, D.C. found Palfrey guilty of money laundering, racketeering and using the mail for illegal purposes in connection with a prostitution ring she ran from 1993 to 2006.
Several well-known men were reportedly clients of her service, including former U.S. Agency for International Development chief Randall Tobias and Sen. David Vitter, R-La. Neither man was among the clients called to testify at Palfrey's trial. Neither immediately responded to requests for comment.
In an interview last year, Palfrey vowed to fight the federal prosecutors who brought the charges against her. "They just destroy you on every level, financially, emotionally, psychologically," she said, but still she refused to accept any deal they offered.
In the interview, she contrasted herself with Brandy Britton, a woman who once worked as a prostitute -- apparently for a time with Palfrey's service, Palfrey's phone records reflected -- who committed suicide after charges were brought against her.
"She committed suicide because of the police and the prosecutor," Palfrey said then, arguing that prostitution should be legal because the prosecutions are more harmful than the business itself. "They, they had to push it, in the name of justice. I'd like to know what justice they're talking about."