January 25, 2018
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Alan J. Abrahamson (71) kills himself using a gun attached to weather balloons to simulate a homicide

Abrahamson’s body was found after he had been shot in the chest with a hollow point bullet. No witnesses or weapon could be found, and Abrahamson’s death was ruled suspicious.

It was noted during the examination of the body that Abrahamson had a thin streak of blood, which had traveled across his sweatshirt in an upward angle to his shoulders, seemingly made by a piece of string.

During the course of the investigation, authorities found receipts and internet search histories which showed Abrahamson had recently purchased two weather balloons and helium, and had asked the retailer selling the balloons various questions, such as the distance the balloons would drift, how much weight they could lift, and how high they could reach before popping. Internet searches, dating as far back as 2009, showed Abrahamson had researched if his insurance policies would payout in the event of a suicide, as well as various methods of suicide including by gunshot.

Due to the evidence, Abrahamson’s death was ruled a suicide, though the motive remains unclear. The gun was never recovered, but it was projected to have been carried by the balloon some 20 miles (32km) to the Atlantic Ocean.

The idea of killing oneself with a gun attached to balloons to appear as a homicide is not exclusive to Abrahamson. In 2008, Thomas Hickman killed himself in a similar manner near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Hickman had duct taped his mouth shut and shot himself in the back of the head with a revolver attached to helium balloons. The balloons traveled around 30 feet (9 meters) from Hickman’s body before becoming entangled in a cholla cactus. The balloons attracted the attention of passing motorists who found Hickman’s body nearby. Closer inspection of the balloons revealed the revolver, still tied to the balloons’ ribbon.

Both Abrahamson’s and Hickman’s deaths are nearly identical to a 2003 episode of CSI entitled Homebodies. In the episode, a bounty hunter with a failing career opts to die by suicide. The man purchased four red balloons while in a park, tied the gun to the ribbons, and shot himself allowing the balloons to drift away after his death.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, available 24 hours a day in the US, at 1-800-273-8255, text “Home” to 741741, or call your country’s emergency services number.

Kleinberg, Eliot. “LATEST: Gardens man staged his suicide to look like murder, police say.” The Palm Beach Post. July 13, 2018. Updated: July 16, 2018. Accessed: July 25, 2020. https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/latest-gardens-man-staged-suicide-look-like-murder-police-say/gckUM9HanQtYvaNGbHZT4N/
“Body discovered in Palm Beach Gardens identified as Alan Abrahamson, 71.” WPTV. January 25, 2018. Updated: March 14, 2018. Accessed: January 25, 2020 (image source)
Carlisle, Candace. “What was once thought to be a desert murder turns out to be an elaborate suicide based on an episode of ‘CSI’.” Albuquerque Journal. July 20, 2008. Accessed: January 25, 2020. https://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/2011132state07-20-08.htm

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