Police arrested a Florida man on Tuesday who survived a reported suicide pact while his girlfriend died.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that Bruce Haughton, 52, and his 52-year-old girlfriend, Katherine Goddard, attempted suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning during two separate incidents in late June. They were both unsuccessful during the first try, but on the second attempt, Goddard succeeded.
On Monday, Haughton turned himself in to Flagler police on a criminal mischief charge unrelated to his girlfriend’s suicide. He made bail, but by Tuesday, he was behind bars again after deputies arrested him for assisting self-murder, which in Florida, is a second-degree felony manslaughter charge. He’s being held without bail.
According to investigators, the couple made their suicide pact after they both stopped prescription pill use. They placed red duct tape around the garage door of Goddard’s home off of Red Clover Lane in Palm Beach, then attached a dryer vent to a vehicle’s exhaust pipe while the vehicle sat in the garage. They then left the car running and and sait inside it while it filled up with carbon dioxide.
On their first attempt on June 29, the car battery died, but that didn’t deter them. The following day, they took sleeping pills and tried again. On June 30, Goddard’s daughter came home from work and found her mother and Haughton unresponsive inside the vehicle. She quickly dialed 911 for help.
“I just got home and I just found my mom and my step-dad in the garage, in the car; and I don’t know if the car’s been on or what but … he’s barely breathing and I can’t get a pulse off of her.”
Goddard left behind a suicide note that indicated coming off of prescription pills was too painful to bear and she felt like she couldn’t get any help.
“Due to the pain we are both in and can’t get help, this is the only way we can see getting out of it. Goodbye to everybody.”
By the time help arrived, Goddard had already passed away. Haughton was rushed to a Flagler hospital where doctors found 3 percent blood-level of carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) in his system. Goddard’s COHb was a lot higher, which aroused suspicions in investigators, but Sheriff Rick Staly said that they ultimately decided on an assisting self-murder charge for Haughton.
“There were a lot of unusual circumstances in this case, but the state felt that that was the appropriate charge,” Staly said. “There’s insufficient evidence to charge him with murder. Although there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that would indicate this case is more than the charge.”
An assisting self-murder conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Florida.
[Feature Photo: Police Handout]