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American crime writer, Eugene Izzi, was found hanging outside a window 14 stories above Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois on December 7, 1996. The strange death was ruled a suicide; however, those close to Eugene believe foul play was involved.
About the Case
On December 7, 1996, a Christmas shopper on Michigan Avenue in Chicago got the shock of his life when he noticed a man hanging out of a window 14 stories above the ground.
Police arrived and hauled the body back into the building. Items on the victim as well as around the scene were a bit strange. The victim was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Police found a set of brass knuckles, $481 in cash, a can of a disabling spray like mace, and a set of notes documenting recent harassing phone calls. Nearby, lay a loaded .38-cal. pistol that had not been fired. The rope used in the hanging was tied to a steel desk inside the man’s locked office, room 1418. And the rope had been tied four times around the victim’s neck.
The victim was identified as 43-year-old Eugene Izzi, a published crime writer.
A month after Eugene’s death, police revealed an 800-page unfinished manuscript was discovered on three computer disks taken from the scene. Eugene’s New York publisher, Avon Books, had no knowledge he was writing a new book.
One of the chapters revelaed a scene very similar to the way Eugene was found. A street-smart Chicago mystery writer, armed with Mace and brass knuckles, is thrown from a 14th-floor window, with a noose around his neck, by Indiana militiamen (People Magazine). The noose was tied four times around the neck. However, in the book, the writer hoists himself back up, survives and kills his assailants.
Police thought this could possibly have been a publicity stunt gone wrong and Eugene was acting out the scene from the book.
The coroner reported that Eugene’s body had bruises to the face, arms and thighs, but he likely received the injuries from his body hitting the wall of the building. The coroner also reported that Eugene’s neck was not broken. This meant Eugene slowly lowered his body out the window instead of jumping (drop hanging).
Eugene’s death was ruled a suicide after it was revealed he had been seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication for depression. His family did not dispute this ruling. However, his friends absolutely refused to believe he took his own life.
Prior to his death, Eugene revealed to those closest to him that he had infiltrated a white supremacist group in Indiana to do research for a book. The group discovered who he was and soon after, he began receiving threatening phone calls. Friends heard one of these calls. It was a woman who said Eugene had been found guilty and would hang soon. Eugene believed it was the neo-Nazi group he infiltrated and was in fear for his life.
Eugene Izzi was married and had two teenage sons at the time of his death.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
I came across this case recently. I had not heard of it, so I decided to put it on here because I do not believe it was suicide.
Why would you hang yourself out of a 14th story window when you could just JUMP? Why hang yourself when there is a LOADED gun in your possession? Why hang yourself OUTSIDE instead of inside?
I don’t buy that he was acting out a scene from his unfinished book either. Why on earth would you go to that extreme knowing you could very well die in the process? I mean, we’re talking about putting his head in a NOOSE then lowering himself out a 14th story window! You’d have to be nuts to think you’d survive a stunt like this, and from what I read, Eugene was perfectly sane.
Isn’t it possible that Eugene didn’t even write that scene? Maybe the killers wrote it, so police would think this was anything but murder. If the group he infiltrated had found out who he was, then they knew he was going to write a book about it. How hard is it to edit a document? It’s not and it wasn’t back then either. However, if Eugene did write it, who else knew about this scene/book? Or was he forced to write it before he was killed? And why was it a whole month before the public knew about the manuscript?
The bullet-proof vest, brass knuckles, disabling spray, and gun are all things used to protect one’s self. If you were going to kill yourself, there really would be no point in having any of these on you. However, if you feared for your life, you would.
Of course, there is the possibility all of these items were planted on him before he was hung. I did read where someone had seen Eugene wearing the vest many times prior to his death. So this says to me he was worried about someone shooting him. But what about the other things found by police? Did the police even think about this as a possibility? Did they test the items for fingerprints? Even if they had, and results came back as belonging to Eugene, the killers could have made him pick up each item before they killed him. Does that sound too far-fetched? Not to me. I’ve read weirder cases. 😉
I’d like to know who was the last person to see Eugene alive. I didn’t find anything on that.
Eugene was a big guy. He weighed 220 pounds. One reports said it would have to take a pretty big person to lift Eugene out the window. Well, yes, or MORE than one person, which is very possible.
I wish we knew more about this Indiana white supremacist group Eugene infiltrated. What did he uncover that was worth killing over?
I want to add that just because he had depression and was taking medication for it, does not mean he killed himself or even wanted to. It doesn’t mean he was suicidal. Could he have had suicidal thoughts? Absolutely. But there is a difference between the two. I’m very surprised that Eugene’s own family was okay with the suicide ruling. I would not have been okay with that if I was a family member.
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