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Foreclosure drives woman to suicide

October 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The financial crisis claims another victim. Just two weeks ago an unemployed financial manager killed five family members and then himself. Now a Pasadena woman facing eviction apparently set fire to her rented home and then committed suicide. Losing a home to foreclosure is as emotional as it is sad. Some families can walk away, but to others foreclosure is the end of their world.

"It's such a tragedy," said Pasadena Police Lieutenant John Dewar. "It's one of those things that it's nobody's fault, but it's everybody's fault."

Lt. Dewar is talking about Wanda Dunn, a 53-year-old Pasadena woman who killed herself early Monday, rather than vacate a bungalow home on North Wilson Avenue. It had been in her family for generations.

Last week, two Sheriff's deputies showed up at the house. Dunn was not there. They posted an eviction notice on her front door. It told her she had to be out of the house by Monday.

Before she shot herself, Dunn set fire to the house. Neighbor Steve Brooks heard the fire trucks, saw the flames, then noticed plants on his front porch, along with toys, water and notes from Dunn. She had written precise instructions on what to do with them.

"In hindsight, there's plenty of little things we should have seen," said Brooks. "And now you kick yourself, because we could have done something, but it's passed."

Wednesday, Brooks drove to San Gabriel to deliver Dunn's bag of toys to Vista Cove, a nursing home where the staff knew her as a kind woman who came every year to deliver toys.

Wednesday, friends came by to ponder the loss.

"I want to say goodbye," said her former high-school science teacher. "She was a friend." He asked not to be identified. He said Dunn showed up at his house Sunday night and asked him to mail a box to somebody in Texas.

"I told her goodbye, and she says, 'Good seeing you.' Those were her last words [to me]. Then I went in the paper today and she killed herself," said the teacher.

Sheriff's deputies who deliver foreclosure notices say they evaluate responses, and can bring Social Services into play to help residents who are being evicted. But Dunn wasn't home, so they tacked up the notice and left.

 

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