Thursday, November 1, 2007

End of the trail

"By the time you receive this letter, I will have killed myself," read the note.

When Richard Hileman, a lawyer, opened that note expecting a rent check, he sent the police immediately to check on his tenent. Police found him dead in a brick apartment building in Cedar Rapids Iowa and it ended a three month search that began in Connecticut.

Jim Bragg had moved into the apartment in late August 2007 in the quiet, older neighborhood near two colleges. He explained to Hileman that he worked for the courts in New York and was in town to tie up the loose ends for a bankrupt company. He paid the $470 rent for the furnished apartment in cash, which isn't unusual since many who rent there are in transition or on an extended stay in the area. Hileman stated that "Bragg" didn't have a car but seemed to be a likeable guy.

"It's so sad. He went off somewhere to die alone," added

What police discovered was that "Bragg" was in fact, the missing Connecticut lawyer, Jonathan Hoyt, 59, who had disappeared from the state three months before amid scandel. The newly divorced Hoyt had recently filed for bankrupcy and was last seen in early July at his Clinton CT law office. Days after he had vanished, he sent cryptic notes to his son, an attorney and statewide bar counsel in New York that he had defrauded his clients to repay personal loans, cleared his son of involement and hinted at doing himself harm.

By mid July, Hoyt's Lexus sedan was found in a parking lot near the Bridgeport CT train station but the trail went cold as to where he could have headed to. Hoyt had gone to school in Iowa but no one suspected that he would return to the Midwest, a thousand miles from where he had lived and practiced law. Police did know that he had stole close to $700,000 from his clients but they still do not know what bills he may have used it to pay.

Hoyt had practiced for more three decades with an unblemished record but in July 2007, two complaints against him were found to be credible and were headed toward resolution at the Statewide Grievance Commitee. It was shortly after this, that Hoyt disappeared.

Cedar Rapids police found Hoyt dead on the apartment couch along with a second note on a table a table nearby. The letter to Hileman contained contact information for his son Christopher and that was when Hileman stated that he didn't know who his tenent was. He stopped reading the note and raced to the apartment while his wife called police.

The mystery of where Hoyt had gone is now solved but the question of why he stole that much money and where it went are still unanswered. People who knew him have stated that he didn't seem to gamble, drink, abuse drugs or womanize. He seemed to be a pretty straightforward guy who ran a solo practice and has now left a huge mess behind.

Only time will tell if evidence surfaces as to where the money may have gone but it certainly had to be a dim future Hoyt saw, for him to go that distance to kill himself in what appears to be, poverty.

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