Mass. woman kills self before home foreclosure

July 23, 2008 6:04:57 PM PDT
A 53-year-old wife and mother fatally shot herself shortly after faxing a letter to her mortgage company saying that by the time they foreclosed on her house that day, she would be dead. Police said that Carlene Balderrama used her husband's high-powered rifle to kill herself Tuesday afternoon, shortly after faxing the letter at 2:30 p.m.

The mortgage company called police, who found Balderrama's body at 3:30 p.m. The auction was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and interested buyers arrived at the property in Taunton, about 35 miles south of Boston, while Balderrama's body was still inside, according to Taunton police chief Raymond O'Berg.

Police did not immediately release the name of the mortgage company. O'Berg said Balderrama's fax read, in part, "By the time you foreclose on my house I'll be dead."

O'Berg also said a suicide note found next to Balderrama told her husband, John, and 24-year-old son to "take the (life) insurance money and pay for the house."

"I had no clue," said John Balderrama explaining that his wife handled all the couple's finances. "I'm just lost. I tell you I'm beside myself."

He said Carlene had been intercepting letters from the mortgage company and shredding them without his knowledge. He had no idea she hadn't paid the mortgage in 42 months.

"She put in her suicide note that it got overwhelming for her," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday. "Apparently she didn't have anyone to talk to. She didn't come to me. I don't know why."

John Balderrama filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy three times from 2004 to 2006, but the courts dismissed the petitions. Debtors who declare bankruptcy under Chapter 13 generally can keep their homes while paying off their debts under a court-approved reorganization plan.