Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Smoking Gun's May 2008 request for the death photos (and other materials) of late DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey


Tarpon Springs, Florida/New York City
--Sometime in May, The Smoking Gun requested all records pertinent to the May 1st death of DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. It appears they were the only ones, though the floodgates would have been opened had they secured the death photos for publication. The St. Petersburg Times requested the records verbally, according to
the City Clerk's Office of Tarpon Springs (by way of Frazer Hubbard Brandt Trask & Yacavone, LLP).

Luckily, this won't ever happen. The public and the press can look at the images at the records department in Tarpon Springs, take their notes, but they cannot duplicate them for commercial purposes. They won't be making their coffee-table books, or their tell-all portrayals of the deceased. They won't be putting her image on anything.

But they tried, and it necessitated legal action by Palfrey's estate--namely, costing her 76-year-old mother Blanche valuable time, money, and emotional distress. The simplest and most economical way to suppress the death photos was to take legal action against the Tarpon Springs Police Department to achieve this.

They say that Truman Capote drank, drugged, and partied himself to death after the publication of "In Cold Blood." in the New Yorker in 1965 (the book version came in 1966). Capote had already shown signs of chronic depression and mental imbalance well-before the execution of murderer Perry Smith and the book's publication.

But he felt guilty for what he perceived as a betrayal of the confidences of the two murderers, particularly Smith. His betrayals of them were just one in a string of many. Truman Capote was a pathological liar and manipulator, but he had a conscience that haunted him. Capote got too close to his subject, and paid for his sins against them through the last years of his dissipated life.

The Palfrey story illustrates how far we have all fallen since then as a culture and a nation. Below are two letters: The Smoking Gun's request for all records on the death of the DC Madam, and the response from the Tarpon Springs PD. Far from being content in their abetting the federal government in running Palfrey to her death, they wanted a look at some of their handiwork--and that uncontrollable urge to turn a buck at the expense of the wretched.