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March 13, 2011

Living With Crazy: He can't really be thinking about killing himself

Your husband has told you that he has been thinking about killing himself every day for about a year. Wouldn't the most safe and sensible thing be to get him to a psychiatrist or to the emergency room?

Yes, of course.

But, I wasn't being safe or sensible.

What? John kill himself? It just didn't seem real. He could be moody and withdrawn sometimes, but so desperately unhappy he wanted to die? We had a good life--or we seemed to up until he arrived home from work a few minutes before--in the middle of the day--and announced that something bad had happened.

I had never dealt with someone who was suicidal, or anyone who was in this kind of crisis. Again, I couldn't believe it. John?

Not only was he the smartest person I knew, he was the guy everyone went to if they were having troubles with work, family, romantic relationships. He was a great listener, and he had been a lifelong volunteer for different nonprofits, where he was often in the position of helping people with problem solving. This included, when we first started going out, working on a crisis hotline in San Francisco, talking people out of taking their lives. Before, our baby was born, he had volunteered at San Francisco's Zen Hospice, tending to people who were dying. Surely, someone with with this sort of background had to know himself pretty well and to have a pretty healthy sense of self.

How could he be so incredibly depressed he was suicidal? I just couldn't believe it.

In any event, the longer we sat there on our sofa, the more my mind turned to his news he was under police investigation.

The investigation must have been on John's mind to, because he announced he wanted to call the Humboldt State University police. He got up, went to the phone, and was put right through to the chief, whom he knew from working around campus. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," I heard him say.

Then he made an appointment to go in and meet with the police in a few days.

I absorbed this news, and then thought, shit, he can't go into the police and just tell them everything he did--whatever it was he did.

People under police investigation are not supposed to talk to the police. I didn't just learn that from TV shows or movies. In a former life, I had been a newspaper reporter--a crime reporter to be exact. That's just how it was. A suspect risked a lot. As the Miranda warning goes, anything a suspect says--even something seemingly benign--could be interpreted in certain ways and used against a suspect in a court of law.

I was also aware of the phenomenon of false confessions. Yes, people do confess to crimes they don't commit. Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area might remember the highly publicized case of Bradley Page, an Acalanes High graduate and UC Berkeley student prosecuted for the 1984 murder of his girlfriend, Roberta "Bibi" Lee, also a UC Berkeley student.

Well, in the year or so before becoming a mom, I had written about Page's confession--having gained access to the transcript of it. Fascinating document; it showed clearly how a mentally distraught, eager-to-please suspect could be led by persuasive detectives, after hours of interrogation, into saying things that could come off as incriminating. With an absence of physical evidence, and in the era before DNA testing, Page was convicted in his girlfriend's killing solely on the basis of this so-called confession, in which, I recall, he never actually said anything to the effect of "I did it" but "If I were to do it, this is how I would."

I saw my husband as being sort of Brad Page-like--mentally distraught and eager to please.

John was also anguished by guilt. Yes, it was clear he had been caught doing something wrong, something illegal. He had been escorted out of his office by campus police after being confronted.

Hearing that he was going to go meet with police, I envisioned him spending hours with detectives and perhaps taking responsibility for things he didn't do.

After the interview, I thought, he'd be taken into custody. Jail. What about our child?

I was suddenly angry. What did John mean he was just going to walk into the university police department and talk to detectives? No, I told him, you're not going to do that.

You're going to get a lawyer.

If only I had thought about getting him to the hospital.


18 comments:

Deborah said...

Compelling tale. I marvel at your courage.

Anonymous said...

Wow...

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Shit. I hope everything turns out OK. This must be incredibly scary. :(

Anonymous said...

Oy....

Anonymous said...

But, Brad PAge did kill Bibi Lee. I knew them both. Page was later arrested in New Zealand for indecent exposure on a jogging trail (Bibi was killed on a jogging trail) and his high school girlfriend also dissapeared without a trace and has never been found. Since he wasnt a suspect in that case he it was not allowed to be introduced in his trail for the murder of Bibi. Hope that your guy isnt like Brad Page or I guess you would already be dead. (p.s. Though the confession was flawed he was convicted of a lesser count and served 2.5 years for killing Bibi)

Anonymous said...

I covered the case for the Daily Cal-and am still following him. What high school did he attend?I knew about New Zealand and tracked him to the Baltimore area after that incident. I intervieved him in jail. Its in the eyes.

Anonymous said...

knew them both too, went with Brad to look for Bibi after Brad, apropos of nothing told me that "we lost Bibi"

Brad killed Bibi. Nothing else makes sense

Anonymous said...

I lived at Lothlorien and knew them both, too, and after she went missing, I volunteered at Friends of Bibi Lee, where Brad comforted Bibi's sister Gloria when she cried. That of course became a sick, horrifying memory, along with the recollection of how her parents treated Brad like a son -- they were, and probably still are, a loving family. But as much as I would prefer the closure of at least being able to reach a conclusion as to whether Brad killed my friend, I have doubts.

Leo Pallanck said...

I met Brad Page when he was at Diablo Valley College (a community college in CA we both attended before transferring to a four year college). Although I didn't know him well, he seemed like a very nice guy, and perhaps a bit naive. I bumped into him by accident when he was between trials when I pulled into a parking lot on a secluded road to take over behind the wheel from my sister in law, who I was teaching to drive. My conversation with him was a bit awkward (I couldn't very well say "how's it going?"), and my sister in law was completely tongue-tied out of fear.

I had completely forgotten about Brad Page until the other day when my sister in law reminded me about our chance encounter. I thought I knew the case pretty well-he went jogging with his girlfriend, he came back alone, and then later she turned up dead and he confessed. This seemed like an open and shut case to me-I felt he must surely have been guilty. However, after my sister in law reminded about this, I looked into the matter, and it turns out, the story wasn't as simple as I had thought. Indeed, after reviewing all of the information (and the facts are available for anyone who want to look into this here: http://www.lawlink.com/research/CaseLevel3/69026) I have come to the conclusion that there is a very good chance that Brad Page wasn't guilty after all.

While Brad Page cannot be excluded as the killer, there are just too many things that don't add up. Also, I'm a lot more suspicious of "confessions" that I was when I was young (look at how many people have confessed to crimes that they were subsequently exonerated for based on DNA evidence. I won't try to lay out all the reasons for questioning Brad Page's guilt (although there are many), but I'll simply say this: knowing what I know now, I would absolutely NOT have gone along with a guilty verdict in the case. Indeed, I feel there is a high probability that he is innocent of the crime.

There are two things that haunt about this. First, we were both very young men really just getting started in life when I knew him, and now I'm an old man (OK, technically in my mid-50's). I cannot help but reflect on how much I have lived since the time I knew Brad (marriage, two kids, college, grad school, etc.), and consequently how much living Brad lost as a result of this case. If he is indeed guilty, then he probably deserves this loss, but as I say, I personally would not have convicted him, and I really do think he could be innocent. The other thing that haunts me is how I behaved towards him when I bumped into him. I was very cool towards him, and he surely sensed that. It's just incredibly sad to think about how utterly ruined his life was as result of this conviction. I realize I could get some hate mail about this, but before responding to my comment, please understand that I realize Bibi Lee is dead, and that Brad may well have killed her, in which case he deserves all that he has received, and perhaps more. I'm just saying that none of us can say with certainty that he was the murderer. Moreover, I think most objective people would agree that based on the facts of the case, there are good reasons for thinking he wasn't the murderer, in which case he should have been acquited.

If anyone knows where he is, or how to contact him, or what he is doing now, it would be great to hear about this. I would really like to write to him to apologize for my behavior towards him when I ran into him those many years ago.

Leo Pallanck said...

I met Brad Page when he was at Diablo Valley College (a community college in CA we both attended before transferring to a four year college). Although I didn't know him well, he seemed like a very nice guy, and perhaps a bit naive. I bumped into him by accident when he was between trials when I pulled into a parking lot on a secluded road to take over behind the wheel from my sister in law, who I was teaching to drive. My conversation with him was a bit awkward (I couldn't very well say "how's it going?"), and my sister in law was completely tongue-tied out of fear.

I had completely forgotten about Brad Page until the other day when my sister in law reminded me about our chance encounter. I thought I knew the case pretty well-he went jogging with his girlfriend, he came back alone, and then later she turned up dead and he confessed. This seemed like an open and shut case to me-I felt he must surely have been guilty. However, after my sister in law reminded about this, I looked into the matter, and it turns out, the story wasn't as simple as I had thought. Indeed, after reviewing all of the information (and the facts are available for anyone who want to look into this here: http://www.lawlink.com/research/CaseLevel3/69026) I have come to the conclusion that there is a very good chance that Brad Page wasn't guilty after all.

While Brad Page cannot be excluded as the killer, there are just too many things that don't add up. Also, I'm a lot more suspicious of "confessions" that I was when I was young (look at how many people have confessed to crimes that they were subsequently exonerated for based on DNA evidence. I won't try to lay out all the reasons for questioning Brad Page's guilt (although there are many), but I'll simply say this: knowing what I know now, I would absolutely NOT have gone along with a guilty verdict in the case. Indeed, I feel there is a high probability that he is innocent of the crime.

There are two things that haunt about this. First, we were both very young men really just getting started in life when I knew him, and now I'm an old man (OK, technically in my mid-50's). I cannot help but reflect on how much I have lived since the time I knew Brad (marriage, two kids, college, grad school, etc.), and consequently how much living Brad lost as a result of this case. If he is indeed guilty, then he probably deserves this loss, but as I say, I personally would not have convicted him, and I really do think he could be innocent. The other thing that haunts me is how I behaved towards him when I bumped into him. I was very cool towards him, and he surely sensed that. It's just incredibly sad to think about how utterly ruined his life was as result of this conviction. I realize I could get some hate mail about this, but before responding to my comment, please understand that I realize Bibi Lee is dead, and that Brad may well have killed her, in which case he deserves all that he has received, and perhaps more. I'm just saying that none of us can say with certainty that he was the murderer. Moreover, I think most objective people would agree that based on the facts of the case, there are good reasons for thinking he wasn't the murderer, in which case he should have been acquited.

If anyone knows where he is, or how to contact him, or what he is doing now, it would be great to hear about this. I would really like to write to him to apologize for my behavior towards him when I ran into him those many years ago.

Rach said...

I had heard bout the NZ arrest...First heard about this after reading The Dead Girl when it first came out...met the author of that book(and others), Melanie Thernstrom, a few yrs ago in NYC @ a book signing. Im cinvinced he killed Roberta(Bibi). I did NOT know about his high school gf tho. Sounds like a whole other mess/drama...Wonder what trash pile he has ended up on...

Rach said...

They are a broken family since Bibi died. Her sister's name is Veronica. Not Gloria.

Rach said...

Considering he served an unseemly short sentence and then later went to NZ and got himself arrested for exposing himself to a woman on a hiking trail i dont feel too sorry for him because i always thought he was guilty...He knew certain details that only the killer knew and the cops didnt feed him that info...

Rach said...

They are a broken family since Bibi died. Her sister's name is Veronica. Not Gloria.

Robert Taylor said...

Bradley Page did not kill Bibi Lee. (Part 1 of 2)

People! Maybe you missed the news? Bradley Page did NOT kill Bibi Lee. It came to light in 1994 that serial murderer Michael Ihde killed Bibi Lee. The evidence is clear. But the DA may never reopen the case to officially clear Bradley's name.

I was a student at Cal who was visiting the Lothlorien Co-Op house often during the time period before and after Bibi Lee's death (Fall 1984) because I had friends living there. In fact, on the day Bibi went missing I rode in the back of Bradley's station wagon with several other Lothlorien residents as he drove us to the Exploratorium's Tactile Dome exhibit. My friends spearheaded the search for Bibi Lee. Everyone was devastated by her death and what came after.

For years I pondered the lurid police account that Bradley had killed Bibi that morning and buried her that evening with a hubcap from the car I rode in. I tried to square that with my impressions of all my Lothlorien friends and of Bradley's apparently innocent behavior that day. I wondered if anyone so friendly could really kill a lover and then hide it so well. Could a psychopath really feign such warm emotional connection with dozens of people in a groovy vegetarian Co-Op house? The allegations of repeated disinterment and serial necrophilia sounded frankly outlandish to me, so I personally concluded he must be innocent.

But then he was convicted by a jury of our peers! Wow, I thought. Maybe he did kill her after all? In those days I reluctantly concluded that a seemingly nice person that did not alarm me in any way apparently could do an unbelievably awful thing in the morning and then go play with their friends in the afternoon, then do more awful things in the evening without tipping their hand at all. And then one of our friends married him! And she was about as people savvy as anyone I'd ever met. Huh. So what to believe?

When new evidence came to light a decade later, I changed my mind about Bradley. In 1994- several years after Bradley was paroled- a jailed serial murderer named Michael Ihde bragged to another inmate of killing Bibi and several other Bay area women. Upon inspection, there was lots of corroborating evidence to support this uncoerced confession from a heinous criminal. It looks like Karen Marquardt's detailed eyewitness account of seeing a large bearded man dragging an Asian woman that looked like Bibi toward a parked van near the park midday on 11/4/1984 (an hour or two after Bibi ditched Bradley and Robin) was almost certainly Bibi being abducted for rape and murder by Ihde. A bloodhound corroborated Karen's testimony (it smelled Bibi at that spot on that street). But the DA disregarded Karen's and the police dog's testimony in the original trial, and in the subsequent trials.

Apparently poor Bibi was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and became one of the numerous women that Ihde abducted, raped and killed in the course of his violent criminal career. So it goes.

And poor Bradley who had never been in trouble with the law before was naïve enough to walk into the Oakland police station without a lawyer when they called him on day one of the murder investigation. Police detained Bradley and subjected him to an exhausting, repetitive series of psychologically deceptive and coercive tactics, interrogating him nonstop from morning until the wee hours of the night. He was lied to, worn down, psychologically manipulated, browbeaten, grilled, and framed by the Oakland police. He was duly prosecuted by the Alameda County DA and was convicted solely on the basis of his coerced confession despite much esculpatory physical evidence. The DA disregarded Karen's and the police dog's testimony in the original trial, and in the subsequent trials. No connections were made to the nearly identical rape and murder of another East Bay woman 3 weeks after Bibi died. Bradley was jailed several years for a murder he did not commit.

Robert Taylor said...

And the wrong goes on. Bradley Page was paroled in 1991. But in 1994 when new evidence identified already convicted serial murderer Michael Ihde as Bibi's true killer, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office refused to reopen Bradley's case, acknowledge his innocence, and officially clear his name. To this day he is wrongly identified in public records and remembered by most people as the terrible boyfriend who was convicted of brutal murder and icky necrophilia. The criminal record that follows him to this day has probably ruined any chance Bradley ever had for a serious professional career.

Bibi's family and friends spent decades hating this innocent man's guts. They must have been made aware of the new evidence. I hope they have been able to see the truth, forgive him, and release that emotional burden. But Bibi's mom did not live long enough to learn the truth. She went to her grave believing incorrectly that Bradley killed her daughter.

So today I conclude from the story of Bradley Page and Bibi Lee that truly nice people who have never done anything wrong can and do sometimes get raped and murdered by cruel strangers. And nice people who have never done anything wrong can be and sometimes are subjected to grueling interrogation by law enforcement, and framed for murder while the true murderers remain free to rape and murder some more nice people who have never done anything wrong. And careers in law enforcement can and sometimes do turn (presumably) nice people into hardened cynics who will not bat a jaundiced eye as they work in our civil institutions to create and prosecute travesties of justice like this.

We all support our local law enforcement agencies and commend them for the difficult work they often do very well, but every police department needs oversight because the very nature of the job tends to breed malfeasance among some public servants. And when that happens, innocent people go to jail and worse. Some police departments and departments of justice are in serious need of reform and ongoing civilian oversight. Until they are, injustice will continue to be served in too many cases.

In the years since Bibi's death, society has learned a lot about how interrogation works. Bradley's case has become a textbook example of coercive interrogation producing a false confession that leads to a miscarriage of justice. And DNA evidence now routinely proves that apparently guilty people are actually innocent of criminal wrongdoing. These processes are leading to some much needed police reforms. If it all happened today instead of back in the '80s, lawyers would know how to recognize the signs of a bogus coerced confession. They would know how to defend a case like this. Today Bradley would almost certainly be cleared of any wrongdoing.

But poor Bibi would still be dead. Rest in peace, dear one. We are so sorry we lost you.

Citations:
Leo, Richard A. The Justice Gap and the Promise of Criminological Research. Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society. Vol 15, issue 3, Dec 2014. Pp 1-37. (Discussion of Bradley Page's trial begins on page 2) http://www.westerncriminology.org/documents/CCJLS/15(3)-December_2014-Complete_Issue.pdfhttp://www.westerncriminology.org/documents/CCJLS/15(3)-December_2014-Complete_Issue.pdf

Richard A. Leo, and Richard J. Ofshe. 1998. Consequences of False Confessions: Deprivations of Liberty and Miscarriages of Justice in the Age of Psychological Interrogation. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol 88, issue 2, Artricle 1. Winter 1998. 496 pages. (The whole article is very pertinent, but specific discussion of Bradley Page's case is on Pp 455-457). http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6951&context=jclc

People v. Page (1991) 2 Cal.App.4th 161 [2 Cal.Rptr.2d 898] http://www.lawlink.com/research/CaseLevel3/69026 Appeal of Bradley Page's original conviction. Original verdict was upheld.

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John Temp said...

Robert Taylor--Thank you for a thorough summary of the case, and especially for the citations. I went to Acalanes high school for one year with Brad Page, although I didn't know him well. My younger sister knew him very well and was a staunch supporter through out his trials. Over the years I lost my sister, and also lost track of Brad's case. In some way, your post and reading the citations brings some closure to me, and some satisfaction that my sister's blind faith has been partially vindicated.