Legends of the Fall

In Miami's jungle of condo towers, 16 people have jumped to their deaths.

"They came in with a pressure washer right away and cleaned it up," Caboverde says. "It was like it never happened."

After Tavarius's death, investigators found he had "one pregnant girlfriend and another who had just undergone an abortion." His son was born two months later.


Kyle T. Webster
Kyle T. Webster

October 30, 2007

8:05 a.m., Sands Pointe

Khinna was beating the cancer that had grown inside her pelvis. Then, in fall 2006, the 61-year-old machinery worker learned it had come back. "I don't want to live like this anymore," she confessed to her family. The sunny morning before she killed herself, her husband stepped out to get her breakfast. He returned and found a lawn chair tipped over on the balcony. Below, Khinna lay dead on the Feldmans' patio.


April 19, 2008

7:20 a.m., Key Colony

Enrique spoke his last words in Spanish. "I've done something wrong, and you will cry," he told his wife. At 75 years old, the industrial fisherman had an anxiety disorder worsened by the death of his mother. At 4:30 a.m., he awoke feeling restless. In a fit, he took off his clothes, paced around the living room, and threw furniture over the balcony. He jumped from the ninth floor and landed in a small flower garden.


May 6, 2008

9:06 p.m., Mirador

His buddies called him "the Bartman" because his life stories were more exciting than fiction. A self-made millionaire and scuba diver, Bart was the life of the party at the Washington, D.C.-based National Potomac Yacht Club. "He was one of the most exciting, outrageous, and fun-loving guys we have ever known," clubber Harold Seigel wrote after his death. "We will be telling Bart stories for as long as we live."

But underneath those dimples and one-liners, something dark ate away at him.

Born in New York City in 1949, Bart was a competitive kid. That drive helped him found a Virginia-based company called Potomac Floor Covering, which would become one of the most successful tiling companies in the D.C. area.

He married young, kicked a coke habit, and divorced "many years ago," according to the coroner's report. In March 2005, he resigned from his position at the business and sold 9,000 shares of company stock for $1.8 million. The deal caused him a legal headache in 2007, when the buyers sued him in federal court. They claimed he cooked the books, and the case was settled out of court.

Other things were going wrong. Bart injured his knee and got hooked on painkillers. Around the same time, he discovered he had hepatitis C and enrolled in a research program for treatment at University of Miami. Retirement wasn't going the way he'd planned. Although his luxury waterfront condo had a sweeping view, the material things weren't cutting it.

The evening of May 6, 2008, a teenager was lounging in the living room of unit 1125 when he heard a noise. He looked up and noticed "something pass by [his] window, which looked like a person," a Miami Beach Police report states. It was Bart.

When cops arrived, they found the door to unit 1225 ajar. Inside, officers spotted "a wine glass with possible lipstick on the rim," a "syringe with unknown liquid," and "empty baggies on top of the dresser along with a spoon." Blood spots speckled the glass coffee table. A woman had been there, "possibly a prostitute," the medical examiner's investigative report says.

The fall broke both of Bart's legs, and he died on impact. In the days afterward, his lawyer, David Charles Masselli, explained that finances couldn't have triggered the suicide: Bart was loaded. He left behind a daughter.


May 10, 2008

9:40 a.m., Mirador

Jane left the window to Penthouse 3 half-open. The 57-year-old real estate agent had access to the spacious condo, which was under construction on the 17th floor. A Miami Hurricanes fan with bipolar disorder, she jumped in comfortable green sneakers and landed near the building's entrance. A baseball cap fluttered down behind her.


July 21, 2008

4:30 p.m., Bay Garden Manor

Jamie chooses to remember her handsome, green-eyed father before the sickness turned him into a stranger. It comes in images: his smiling face at the go-kart track, the warmth of water while they were boating, playing putt-putt in the sun. "He taught me to be so independent," she says. "He was such a loving father."

Her dad, Fabio, came to Miami from Cuba in 1964 on a nine-foot wooden boat with three friends. Midway through the trek, the motor broke, and they were stranded. Without water or food, they grew hot, thirsty, and hopeless. The slim 22-year-old contemplated drowning himself but was soon rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Once safe in Miami, he met a woman near the Key Biscayne lighthouse. They later married and had a daughter, Jamie. He landed a job moving industrial equipment and then eventually began to run the business himself. When Jamie was in college, he bought her a condo on the 11th floor of Bay Garden Manor. Life was humming along.

But things changed in his mid-50s. Though bipolar disorder usually hits men in their 20s, Fabio's disease coincided with his retirement, Jamie says. "He went through episodes of mania," she explains. "He would spend all of his money, shoplift, and drive around like a maniac. It wasn't him. It was his illness." His wife left him, and he began to get into trouble.

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