Murder or Suicide by Aspirin Overdose?

Last week I literally climbed Mt. Parnassus and visited the Oracle of Delphi. But people living in Illinois who want to know when disasters are about to occur need not go to such extremes. Instead of visiting an oracle they might want to keep track of my comings and goings. It seems to me that when I return from travel in late summer or early autumn, the headlines are always startling.

I remember returning to Chicago in the mid-1980s to headlines that Chicago’s first African-American mayor had died of unexpectedly. I returned to Chicago when Hurricane Katrina was about to hit New Orleans. And yesterday I returned to headlines about the apparent “death by aspirin overdose” of former IL governor Blagojevich’s indicted aid, Chris Kelly.

Only in Chicago would the chief witness for the prosecution die from a suspected aspirin overdose.

Not only that, but apparently Mr. Kelly committed suicide in a lumber yard in Country Club Hills, a southwest suburb (his home is in Burr Ridge). He was driven to Oak Forest Hospital (not in Country Club Hills) by a mysterious “girlfriend,” where he was “stabilized.” In other words, he was no longer in danger.

  • Sidebar: Why does this lumber yard make me think of Kafka’s The Trial? Could it be his “lumber room”? Or maybe I should think of Fargo. What is it about lumber and people charged with crimes?

As consequence, he was taken by ambulance to Stroger Hospital (aka Cook County Hospital). This, in itself, is peculiar. Stroger Hospital is a Medicaid hospital, essentially. It is renowned for its gunshot trauma expertise. Anyone with medical insurance or any financial means of any kind would have gone to just about any other hospital in the area, including the University of Chicago Hospital (where Michelle Obama was until recently in charge of community relations, just to give you an idea of its prestige).

Unfortunately for Mr. Kelly, Stoger’s trauma unit was apparently not trained in aspirin overdoses, because he died there in mid morning on Saturday. It might also be noted that the hospital is named for the former Cook County Board president, John Stroger, father of the current president, Todd Stroger, who inherited his elected position and is (purely coincidentally) currently under siege by IL state legislators for his high-handed management style and for his raising of Cook County sales taxes to the highest rate in the nation.

image I suppose stranger ways of committing suicide have been used successfully. But isn’t it interesting that Mr. Kelly was scheduled to be the prime witness for the Feds in the coming trial of former Gov. Blago?

BTW: Cook County has a Medical Examiner, not a coroner. There will be no coroner’s jury. Instead, the matter of this suspicious death will go to a grand jury – yet another jury I would not wish to serve on.

(To the left is a photo of vials that held a dose of hemlock for condemned prisoners in Athens. Like Socrates, for the good of the republic politicians swallowed poison. Taken in the Stoa, the Agora Museum of Athens, Sept. 6, 2009.)