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Posted: 7/16/2008 2:52:29 PM EDT
A for effort!

www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/071608dnmethickman.3d76e7d.html

Balloons carried gun away in Red Lobster executive's 'CSI'-like suicide

10:25 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News
tellis@dallasnews.com

Thomas Hickman drove through New Mexico, police say, until his Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo ran out of gas. Then the 55-year-old North Richland Hills man walked into a field, tied helium balloons to a gun, covered his mouth with duct tape, and shot himself in the back of the head, according to New Mexico State Police.

That determination is a far leap from what authorities first suspected when Mr. Hickman's body was discovered March 15 near Santa Rosa, N.M., about 100 miles east of Albuquerque. Authorities initially thought the Red Lobster executive had been kidnapped and slain.
Thomas Hickman

But investigators came to the conclusion that Mr. Hickman committed suicide. The first clue was the bundle of white helium balloons, with the gun still attached, found snagged on bushes and cactus near Mr. Hickman's body.

The grip of the Smith & Wesson Airweight had been removed and the trigger guard ground down, said Lt. Rick Anglada of New Mexico State Police.

"He took as much weight off as he could to make it light as possible," Lt. Anglada said. The plan apparently was to have the gun float far away after being fired, but that didn't happen.

The gun and balloons led police from that field back to Mr. Hickman's house in North Richland Hills.

"This was apparently an elaborate attempt to make it look like he was murdered," Lt. Anglada said. "Investigators were able to show that he purchased the balloons and purchased the gun. We also found shavings from the gun in his garage."

Partway through the investigation, one of the investigators recalled seeing a television show in which balloons were used in a suicide.

The investigator obtained a copy of an October 2003 episode of the television drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and noticed that there were several similarities between that show and Mr. Hickman's case. But Lt. Anglada said New Mexico authorities are not sure if Mr. Hickman ever saw the program.

Detectives would not speculate about the motive for his suicide, the lieutenant said.

However, the investigation showed that at the time of his death, Mr. Hickman's life was in turmoil. Lisa Hickman, his wife of 29 years, was ill, and he had been caring for her for some time. Mr. Hickman had also recently lost some money in the stock market, Lt. Anglada said.

Mrs. Hickman could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But in March, she described her husband as a generous Christian man who "did not preach the word of God, but he walked the walk. He lived it."

The couple moved to Texas from Florida in 2003 and had one son.

Mr. Hickman worked for Red Lobster for 32 years and oversaw restaurants in the chain from North Richland Hills to West Texas. He started as a manager trainee, company officials said. In 1977, Mr. Hickman was promoted to general manager and headed operations at restaurants in Wisconsin, Illinois, North Carolina and Florida. He became director of operations in 2003 when he took over restaurants in parts of Texas.

As the West Texas director of operations for Red Lobster, Mr. Hickman regularly traveled through the region where he died. He was last seen at a meeting in Abilene on March 13. The next day, he missed a meeting in Lubbock. On March 15, two motorists discovered his body in the field.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 2:54:15 PM EDT
Sounds just like a CSI episode I watched.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 2:55:33 PM EDT
Plenty of high crime areas where they would have "helped" him "out"
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 2:56:24 PM EDT
Well that's certainly interesting.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:00:49 PM EDT
He would have been posthumously awarded 10 style points for originality if he hadn't just copied the idea off a TV show.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:03:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 70satvert:
Well that's certainly interesting.


yes it is
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:03:52 PM EDT
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:04:49 PM EDT
Actually it was murder.

It was an attempt to make it look like a suicide that was intended to look like a murder.

Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:05:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


Life insurance?
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:05:19 PM EDT
Obviously CSI caused this guy to commit suicide. We should ban it for the children.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:05:21 PM EDT
No life insurance money for you.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:05:38 PM EDT

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


insurance?
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:07:00 PM EDT
Insurance money



Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:07:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By peekay:
The first clue was the bundle of white helium balloons, with the gun still attached, found snagged on bushes and cactus near Mr. Hickman's body.



Now that's funny no matter who ya' are.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:07:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


Insurance. He tried to make it look like he was kidnapped and murdered. That would have been a payout to his NoK.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:08:33 PM EDT
Still doesnt beat this

Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:08:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2008 3:10:02 PM EDT by ApacheScout]

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


I would guess insurance money.His wife was ill,he lost money in the stock market.Sounds like he was desperate.
Insurance companies don't like to pay out for suicide.

ETA:Jeezus,you guys are quick!
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:09:49 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Grug:
Sounds just like a CSI episode I watched.


yup he could have been a little more creative


I give him a C- because the idea is not original
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:11:18 PM EDT
If there is an afterlife, he's looking down (up?) and thinking "man i really suck @ suicide".
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:11:57 PM EDT
Should have tested how many balloons it would take to make the gun airborne in the garage.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:13:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?




Maybe insurance? Maybe to avoid the shame and stigma. Suicide is hard on family members, probably harder than murder.

Where he failed is that he should have used an untraceable gun, and he should have tied it onto much stronger lifting ballons or Garbage bags filled with helium, and he should have used a time delay mechanism, like a long burning fuse to drop the gun away from the balloons, and out over the ocean. Bonus points if you can manage to frame a cheating spouse for the "murder"

He put so much thought into it, then failed so badly. No do over possible.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:13:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


Probably insurance. They don't pay out for intentional acts.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:14:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Melvinator2k0:
Still doesnt beat this

www.jonco48.com/blog/Rip_20it_20off.gif


Now thats some funny shit!!!
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:15:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By peekay:
If there is an afterlife, he's looking down (up?) and thinking "man i really suck @ suicide".



Shoulda used more balloons.


Or pithed himself with an icicle.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 3:15:30 PM EDT
A couple more baloons and some poor soul could have gone to prison for no reason.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:15:37 AM EDT
Am I wrong for thinking that he would have had more success with a P32 / P3AT with one in the chamber and no mag? But I'm guessing he wasn't exactly the firearms enthusiast, and he thought he was on the right track because what he bought said "airweight" on the side.

Now I almost wonder about the level of confusion that would have ensued if he had succeeded. A high-level executive bound and shot in the desert is the kind of thing that would keep all of the news magazine shows gossiping for years.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:18:17 AM EDT

Originally Posted By peekay:
If there is an afterlife, he's looking down (up?) and thinking "man i really suck @ suicide".

Why? Apparently he succeeded.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:19:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:

Originally Posted By peekay:
If there is an afterlife, he's looking down (up?) and thinking "man i really suck @ suicide".

Why? Apparently he succeeded.


"Man i suck at suicide and making it look like a murder"
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:24:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By silascobb:

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


Probably insurance. They don't pay out for intentional acts.


Yes they do.
They pay so long as the policy is in effect for 2+ years.
My guess is, the money wasn't the issue.
Suicide and the stigma of suicide is a hard thing for a family to live with.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:26:26 AM EDT
Could he qualify for a Darwin Award?

But seriously, I do feel kinda bad for the guy. I mean he puts all that effort to help out his wife with a ton of cash who likely needed it badly and he fails at it.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:29:08 AM EDT

However, the investigation showed that at the time of his death, Mr. Hickman's life was in turmoil. Lisa Hickman, his wife of 29 years, was ill, and he had been caring for her for some time.


I can't even imagine this guy's state of mind but he checked out when his wife needed him. I suppose he was depressed, thought that suicide was the answer and thought that the insurance money would care for her. He was wrong on all counts.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:30:51 AM EDT
perfect murder.


the wife did it.

him: "honey, what do you want for your birthday?"
her: "a lightweight handgun and some balloons."

the next day...
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:31:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/17/2008 5:33:48 AM EDT by red65]
99 red ballooonnnnnnns!


first test if balloons can actually loft gun. then pull trigger


how come the guy used an airweight smith? should have used that titanium model, shaved a few ounces.


Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:39:46 AM EDT

Originally Posted By red65:
99 red ballooonnnnnnns!


first test if balloons can actually loft gun. then pull trigger


how come the guy used an airweight smith? should have used that titanium model, shaved a few ounces.


Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:44:34 AM EDT
There would still be powder residue on his shooting hand even if the balloons had worked. Sad situation.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:52:45 AM EDT
I'm confused how this happened. Somebody needs to do an MS Paint for me.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:56:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dilbert_556:
There would still be powder residue on his shooting hand even if the balloons had worked. Sad situation.

I can think of several ways he could have avoided the powder on the hands thing pretty easily.
Sad situation indeed, though.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 5:57:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dilbert_556:
There would still be powder residue on his shooting hand even if the balloons had worked. Sad situation.


On CSI the guy pulled his sleeve over his hand to pull the trigger..

I have a Smith 340SC. It's just a bit over 12oz loaded. 1 7/8" Magna-Ported barrel too..Fire, smoke and noise-just what a shooting a gun should be!

Definitely should have used a Kel-Tec though. A P32 is waaay lighter, but I guess if I was gonna check myself out, I'd want to make sure I used enough gun to make sure I died the first time and didn't lay in the desert, alive and aware but paralyzed and unable to pull the trigger a second time..
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:00:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By peekay:

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:

Originally Posted By peekay:
If there is an afterlife, he's looking down (up?) and thinking "man i really suck @ suicide".

Why? Apparently he succeeded.


"Man i suck at suicide and making it look like a murder"

There you go.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:04:49 AM EDT
Mmmm, Red Lobster.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:05:35 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:06:40 AM EDT

Originally Posted By silascobb:

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


Probably insurance. They don't pay out for intentional acts.


Yeah they do. I found out the hard way when my dad died.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:14:30 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/17/2008 6:15:42 AM EDT by Admiral_Crunch]
The shooting itself may have popped some of the balloons. Or maybe a downdraft at just the right time dipped it down enough to snag something. Surely if he planned it that much, he would have made sure he had enough balloons to float the gun.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:20:32 AM EDT
No need to glorify someone killing themselves, no matter what their methods were.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:20:46 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:25:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By shawn21:
why would you try to hide the fact that you killed yourself ?


insurance?


Bingo....good for him
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:27:35 AM EDT
I love their menu. For a chain seafood joint, it's not bad at all.

I always get either the Admirals Feast or Ultimate Feast.


redlobster.com/

Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:27:39 AM EDT
I have never understood suicide

If things ever got THAT bad in my life, I can think of a dozen places I could go and start my second life as "Norman Paperman" formerly known as Makarov.

I suppose the only exception would to be terminally ill and choosing to keep your dignity before you lost control of your decisions.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:36:36 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:51:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By John_Wayne777:
Sooner or later a bunch of balloons with a handgun attached to it is going to come down somewhere...and when it does, people are gonna have questions. Not a good way to get rid of the suicide weapon.


I mostly agree with you, but there's a whole lot of uninhabited land in that part of the country. I'd think the odds are pretty good that it would never be found if the balloons lofted it out of the immediate area.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 6:55:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DylanPorter:

Originally Posted By red65:
99 red ballooonnnnnnns!


first test if balloons can actually loft gun. then pull trigger


how come the guy used an airweight smith? should have used that titanium model, shaved a few ounces.




Sorry Dylan, red65 has it right. An Airweight has a stainless cylinder, and Airlite Ti or AirLite Sc has a titanium cylinder.
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