Legends of the Fall

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

Fabio was arrested several times in the last years of his life. In 2007, a security guard at a Publix in North Miami Beach watched Fabio shove two Crest Spin toothbrushes down the front of his pants. Cops arrested him and charged him with petty theft. (He pleaded guilty and received probation.)

About a month later, a relative told Miami-Dade cops that Fabio stole his car. Fabio had sold the four-door 2003 Cadillac to his nephew, according to police reports. But he later showed up with a tow truck and had it hauled to a lot near Banyan Park.

Afterward, Fabio swiped his nephew's 9mm handgun from the glove compartment and ditched the car, according to police reports. He was in a state of mania. When cops caught up to him, he explained that his nephew had paid him only $2,000 for the $13,000 car and "was going to pay the remaining balance" but never did. Even so, officers charged him with armed grand theft auto. Again, he received probation.

Kyle T. Webster
Kyle T. Webster

He was arrested for indecent exposure three months later, though the case was dismissed. Later, a condo manager told police that Fabio "knocks on doors looking for kids on occasion" and "touches kids inappropriately."

After all the legal troubles, Jamie checked her father into a hospital for psychiatric treatment. He didn't adjust well. "Trust me, he had his problems," Jamie says. "But it was hard for him to go from being king of his business to living with schizophrenic people."

Psychologists had trouble prescribing medication that worked, and Fabio disliked taking pills, which made him feel nauseated. He also suffered from a prostate condition.

On the muggy afternoon of July 21, 2008, doctors told him he'd have to wear a catheter for the rest of his life.

As Jamie stepped into a yoga class that evening, her cell phone rang. She recognized the number: Miami Beach Police. The voice on the other line told her to come to the station, that something was wrong. Intuitively, she knew her father was dead. Instead of going to the cops, she went straight to the condo and found crime scene tape stretched across the parking lot. There she learned what had happened: Fabio had made his way to the fire escape on the 11th floor and slid out a window. He left no suicide note.

Jamie hasn't been back to the building since. "It's so hard to lose your dad," she says, blinking away tears. "I lost him to the disorder long before he died."


August 22, 2008

12:03 p.m., Triton Tower

Hector was 72 years old but looked much younger. Each morning, before his wife and son awoke, he'd walk for miles — sometimes from Bal Harbor to the southern end of the island. He had been depressed for years. "My dad used to give money to the less fortunate who lived on the beach," his son says. "While other people walked away from them, my dad talked to them."

When Hector's wife was away shopping August 22, he penned a goodbye note to his family. Afterward, he grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed himself once in the chest and again in the lower torso. The blade tore through his teal polo shirt, but the wounds were shallow. When the knife didn't work, he stumbled to the window of his eighth-floor condo and jumped into a grassy yard.

Fire-rescue workers pronounced him dead at the scene.

His note read, "Adiós a todos" — Goodbye to all — "8-22-2008."


September 22, 2008

6:02 p.m., Hamptons South

It was a windy Monday, and Leon was sick of his job. The 39-year-old New Jersey native had hazel eyes and a short crop of curly brown hair. A newly married man with bipolar disorder, he resigned from his position at Communication Consultant Group before lunchtime. After he quit, he called his mother and told her the news. She picked him up at the train station and took him to therapy. Then they had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, where they ate rice and vegetables.

Back at his parents' condo that afternoon, his mom and dad retired for a nap. While they slept, he leapt from the eighth-floor balcony and crashed onto a chair below. The sound of police officers knocking at the door woke his father a couple of hours later.


January 8, 2009

2:47 a.m., Palms of Alton Road

Terry, a blond bartender at the gay nightclub Twist, left an 11-page handwritten suicide note on his kitchen table. It was addressed to different family members and offered bits of advice. To his younger cousin, he wrote, "Get an education." Dropping out of school was one of the things Terry regretted most.

Terry was born in 1971, the youngest of three sons in a quiet Detroit suburb. He was "an extremely good-looking child," remembers his mom, Ellie, "and one of the rowdiest kids in his nursery school."

Growing up, most of his close friends were girls. He hid his sexuality from his parents, who were active in the Roman Catholic Church and "raised him with good Christian values," Ellie says.

In his teenage years, Terry gained nearly 100 pounds and refused to go to school. Sometimes he would mutter he felt like killing himself. Mom sent him to a therapist, but Terry wouldn't say more than a few words. "There's nothing I can do for him," the counselor told her. "He won't talk to me."

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