Discussion in 'The Unidentified' started by Marilynilpa, Nov 15, 2005.
It would kind of depend on which Puritan the shirt was from. There's the Cape Cod operation you mention, but there's also a Puritan brand that has been a national brand since at least the 1980's. They were part of the Calvin Klein empire for a while and I think now WalMart owns the brand. I don't think they were ever connected to the Cape Cod company.
That note certainly reads like the kind of thing an intelligent kid from a high-priced prep school would have written in 1975.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread. I am from the area and was married to a Marine stationed at the Naval Air Station in
This is a story that hits your heart. Not sure why I did not know about it at the time.
I have made some notes and will try to follow up with locals who were paying more attention to the news than I was.... Sometimes that Mississippi river is really large. I lived on the Eastbank at that time.
New Orleans metropolitan area - Wikipedia
Belle Chasse is on the Westbank
Belle Chasse, Louisiana - Wikipedia
Thank you @Lato
I would like this young man to get his name back. Seems almost impossible.
I don’t think he’s going to be identified anytime soon unless they locate his body and can exhume him.
I’m also going assume pictures were taken at the scene. Could LE compare those to pictures of the guy we all think he is?
Hopefully someone knows where he is buried...
what a profound goodbye letter
he was very eloquent
what a loss!
if only he could've seen his worth
This guy didn't want to be identified.
Everybody should follow his last will.
I understand you point also John Doe desire to not be indentified but he has a family somewhere that are probably looking and wondering for him and that family need to have closure.
Since I haven't been able to find any one source that has the full or majority of the letter, below is my attempt to reconstruct his suicide note in order, as much as possible, from the different sources available and cited below. His words are in italics.
My hope is that reading the note as close as possible to the order in which he wrote it can help us better understand his mindset.
Sources say that this was a four-page letter, and they commonly cite at least three parts to the letter:
1. "Why you should not feel responsible"
2. To the police or authorities
3. "Mom and Dad"
How did the letter begin?
At first I thought it would begin naturally with "Mom and Dad," but this part was "scrawled on a scrap of paper," which sounds to me more like a separate post-script.
The portion written to the police or authorities is referred to as an "aside," and not an opening or introduction.
The remaining section is "Why you should not feel responsible." This is why I've put this section at the top. But at the same time, the fact that this section has a title makes me feel like it follows something else, and is not an introduction.
This leaves his quotation of Emile Durkheim, and what follows from it. If we begin the letter with this quotation, then what we have essentially is a thesis statement which anchors the rest of the note. That kind of planning resembles a high school or college outline and fits with how articulate and educated he sounds.
In regards to the Durkheim quote, I haven't been able to find the source. Emile Durkheim wrote "Le Suicide" in 1897, and this was first translated into English in 1951 as "Suicide: A Study in Sociology" by Spaulding and Simpson, so presumably this is where it's from. The closest thing that resembles the quote comes from Book 3, page 56:
"C'est le suicide anomique. L'anomie, en effet, donne naissance à un état d'exaspération et de lassitude irritée qui peut, selon les circonstances, se tourner contre le sujet lui-même ou contre autrui ; dans le premier cas, il y a suicide, dans le second, homicide. Quant aux causes qui déterminent la direction que suivent les forces ainsi surexcitées..."
"This is anomic suicide. Anomie, in effect, gives birth to a state of exasperation and irritated weariness which can, according to circumstances, turn against the subject himself or against others. In the first case, there's suicide. In the second, homicide. In regards to the causes which determine the direction that the forces thus overexcited will follow..."
Sources say the note itself concludes with "I am no longer interested in the world..." etc. so I've kept that at the end.
[Emile Durkheim calls suicide] “an inner direction of homicidal feelings against someone else.”
I am a bomb of frustration and should never marry or have children. It is safest to defuse the bomb harmlessly now. I do not want to bother with being a ‘reformed and cured’ person limping through life. I am this self-centered.
Why you should not feel responsible
I never did develop into a real person and I cannot tolerate the false and empty existence I have created… I was born with a definite pervasive melancholy… What frustrated me most in the last year was that I had built no ties to family and friends. There was nothing of lasting worth and value. I led a detached existence and I was a parody of a person—literally and figuratively. I didn’t tell jokes—I was a joke.
[To the police]
You are bound to preserve domestic peace and order. If you pursue who I was (and spend hundreds of dollars) you will accomplish little. There are no legal consequences of my death or any kind of entanglements. All that can happen is that you will shatter domestic peace and order of two innocent lives. Do not deprive them of the hope that their ‘missing’ son will return… Let me be, let it be as if I wasn’t ever here. Simply cremate me as John Doe.
I am no longer interested in the world and know that it is not interested in me. When you stop growing you are dead. I stopped growing long ago.
Mom and Dad,
You have provided me with excellent advantages and privileges and experiences. I am extremely grateful for all of your sacrifices, time and support. I am now repaying you with an arrogant act. In this light, I do see it as criminal. I can only hope that you see that it was me who caused it.
I feel I have acted very methodically and coolly in my action and my words. It is best if I cease to live, quietly, than risk that later I will break and shatter by violence or linger years under care. I implore you to see a psychiatrist in order that you might understand my death and my life. Ask thoroughly about what I was and you will see that it is not tragic that I am gone but more natural than if I continued.
I have wanted to do this for over a year. I am not sad or see this as tragic. I feel a release. This is the only way I knew to attain harmony.
• Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven, page. 150
• Fort Scott Tribune, March 27, 1975
• Toward the Creative Nothing, citing a longer version of the above article
• The Evening Independent, June 17, 1975
• Reddit, citing this Websleuths thread
Thank you so much for putting the letter together and sharing! I wonder if he knew he was a sociopath or had strong urges of other sorts? Interesting and sad
Yeah that's what I'm thinking too. The more I read this letter, the less I think this is something like he was gay and felt he was being forced to hide it. I'm a gay man myself, and I'm fortunate to have a mom who has always been unconditionally loving and supportive, so I don't know the other non-accepting side firsthand.
But... I don't know... there's just something about the language of the letter that doesn't give me that impression. He does talk about "creating a false and empty existence"... but in my opinion, if this meant he was struggling with his sexuality, I think I would expect to see more of that struggle, something like "As much as I try, I can't change who I am or how I feel. I've fought it, prayed about it. I can't resist these feelings," etc. I try to put myself in that situation and if I had been a struggling gay man who's writing a suicide note, I feel like that's more in line with what I would say, something to the effect of "ultimately these feelings were too much for me."
But instead of that, he talks about how he never made any friends last year, and how he was "detached", a "parody of a person," doesn't feel "ties" to anyone etc. He even flat-out says "I never did develop into a real person," like he feels numb, no identity or sense of personhood... but knowing that he should have these by now. In my opinion, then, I think a mental disorder describes his situation better—possibly sociopathic, but still aware of what society expects of him.
I don't think he committed a crime because he's careful to tell police that "there are no legal consequences to my death or any kind of entanglements," something which might not be true if he had prior run-ins with the law.
I totally agree with you! It’s like he knew he was capable of something and decided to leave before he acted on it...? Or perhaps he was on the autism spectrum though high functioning- he clearly was aware he didn’t have the interpersonal connection he knew other people had. I find it odd that he seems to come from a family who provided him resources but that the family hasn’t evidently had or used the resources to find him.
I respect the point people made that he didn’t want to be identified, but I also feel his family deserves answers- though maybe they also chose to not get answers. I wish there was dna available without having to disturb his remains.
I agree that the family does deserve closure. I'd want to know if this Doe was apart of my family. It's a really sad story, which I think is part of the reason a lot of people find it so intriguing. While I do not want anyone to disturb his remains, exhuming the body is crucial to obtaining DNA from him. After that is done, hopefully he would be identified and then he could be taken home and not be in a potter's grave any longer.
Absolutely! From what he himself says, his parents obviously cared for him so I would agree that they should know. In addition, if the age is accurate, then wouldn't he have been a minor, and as such not legally entitled to "disappear" of his own will?
I had this same exact thought this weekend!
In the Grateful Doe case, Jason Callahan was described as a "free spirit" who would come and go, be in touch or not, as he pleased. So when he disappeared in '95, his family at first thought he was just living his life free somewhere. As months turned into years, I'm sure they had their suspicions and fears, but maybe after so much time passes, it's easier to believe your loved one is still alive than confront a darker possibility.
But I'm going to come at it from a different angle.
This young man thanks his parents for all the "sacrifices, time and support" so whatever his condition, it sounds like they were aware. He also describes himself as "a bomb of frustration," which to me suggests anger and volatility. I wonder if he used that anger to stage an argument with his family, telling them he never wanted to see them again, just so they wouldn't look for him. Maybe they lived near New Orleans (explaining his familiarity with the area), and he said he'd gotten a place to live by himself in the city (a friend of mine from Covington did just that, though minus the argument). This way, when he left, his parents would of course be hurt, but they'd feel obligated to respect his wishes of no more contact, and might find solace in the "fact" that at least he has a place to live, etc.
And by the way, this would suggest to me that this man was 18 or older because I can see the parents trying to convince themselves that he's grown now and able to make his own decisions, etc.
I say this because, in reading his suicide letter again, I find it odd that he tells police not to bother figuring out who he was, but then he writes an apology to his parents. If the police never ID him, then how would his parents ever read that note? But if a fake argument had been part of his year-long plan, then maybe he just wanted to get it off his chest even if his parents would never know.
Glad to see some discussion on this thread. This one continues to truly haunt me.
He for sure was aware of his problems. It sounds as if he had diagnosed himself. He suggests his parents to seek out a psychiatrist not for themselves but to give them what ever he felt that diagnosis was. It's possible that they could have had him in some kind of therapy at some point in his life.
I'm thinking because he keeps referring to the past year that this may be how long he was missing from his parents.
This sounds like our good old friend depression to me. All of these are symptoms of depression -- feeling disconnected and alienated, emotional regulation issues including anger issues (in men, depression is often expressed as anger), feeling a lack of identity or place in the world, etc. I have had suicidal depression on and off for years and I've made many of these exact statements before. I say that I'm not a real person and have no identity all the time.
Basically he's saying "things aren't going to get better, and I don't want to go through years of treatment that probably won't work anyway, so it's best to just end it instead of waiting for things to get worse or becoming just another 'mental patient' who is a burden on society."
Remember this was 1975. Nowadays it's commonplace to have a mental illness, be in therapy, take medication etc. and people aren't as judgmental about it. But back then people didn't talk about it as much and it was taboo and a source of shame. Especially in that general region of the country. It was probably the big family secret.
That's a very good point!
The way I originally read "Do not deprive them of the hope that their ‘missing’ son will return…" was that he had recently run away, and his suicide in secret would soon cause his parents to think he was missing.
But what you say also makes sense. Maybe he had run away one year earlier (to find himself, try to participate in society, etc.) and was aware that his parents already believed he was missing.