Mother of missing boy commits suicide
- Two weeks after telling police that her son had been snatched from
his crib, Melinda Duckett found herself reeling in an interview with
TV's famously prosecutorial Nancy Grace. Before it was over, Grace
was pounding her desk and loudly demanding to know: "Where were you?
Why aren't you telling us where you were that day?"
A day after the taping, Duckett, 21, shot herself to death,
deepening the mystery of what happened to the boy.
Police have refused to say whether she left a suicide note, and said
nothing they have found so far in their investigation of her death
has shed light on the whereabouts of her 2-year-old son, Trenton.
Investigators have stopped short of calling her a suspect but have
focused increasing attention on her movements just before the boy
vanished and the notes, computer, camera and other items seized from
Duckett's family members disputed any suggestion that she hurt her
son. They said that the strain of her son's disappearance pushed her
to the brink, and the media sent her over the edge.
"Nancy Grace and the others, they just bashed her to the end,"
Duckett's grandfather Bill Eubank said Tuesday. "She wasn't one
anyone ever would have thought of to do something like this. She and
that baby just loved each other, couldn't get away from each other.
She wouldn't hurt a bug."
Janine Iamunno, a spokeswoman for Grace, said in an e-mail that
Duckett's death was "an extremely sad development," but that the
program would continue covering the case.
"We feel a responsibility to bring attention to this case in the
hopes of helping find Trenton Duckett, who remains missing," Iamunno
Duckett had told police that after she finished watching a movie
Aug. 27, she went to check on Trenton in his bedroom, and all she
found was an empty crib and a 10-inch cut in the window screen
above it. At the time she was living her son, wading through a messy
divorce with the boy's father and trying to get her life back on
track after getting laid off from her job with a lawn care company.
The boy's disappearance in this town of 19,000 people about 45 miles
northwest of Orlando stretched the 75-member police force to its
limits. Fliers were posted on gas station doors around town, asking
for information from anyone who might have seen the boy, a brown-
haired youngster wearing denim shorts and a diaper.
Trenton's father, 21-year-old Josh Duckett, was closely questioned
after the boy disappeared. Newspapers reported that his wife had
taken out a temporary restraining order against him. But Josh
Duckett took a polygraph test and has answered all police questions
satisfactorily, Capt. Ginny Padgett said.
On Sept. 7, Melinda Duckett gave a telephone interview to CNN
Headline News' Grace, a former prosecutor known for practically
cross-examining her guests. Duckett stumbled over such questions as
whether she had taken a polygraph she said she refused on the
advice of her divorce lawyer and where, exactly, she was shopping
with the boy before his disappearance.
Hours before the interview aired, Duckett shot herself Friday with
her grandfather's gun at her grandparents' house, up the road from
where she was living.
Investigators are still trying to piece together a timeline of where
she and Trenton were 24 hours before she reported him missing. On
Tuesday, they released the make and model of her car, a 2000
Mitsubishi Eclipse, and asked anyone who might have seen it during
that period to call them.
Also on Tuesday, a newspaper reported that she bought a shotgun from
a pawn shop two days before Trenton vanished. Padgett said police
could not confirm that.
On Monday, agents used dogs and digging equipment to search an
outlying area that someone had called about, but found nothing.
Investigators continued to field tips.
"We're following up," Padgett said. "Hopefully they'll bring in
something to help us firm up the timeline."