Colton and Bernard: An Anatomy of a Double Suicide

The act, which one of their longtime friends described as “operatic,” stunned those who knew them and intrigued even those who didn’t.

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Their suicide exhibited both meticulous planning and utter despair. After their expensive meal on Feb. 7 at McCormick & Kuleto’s, they returned one last time to their apartment. When the bodies were found, there was garbage in the sink, and rancid food in the refrigerator, according to sources.

Whether prepared well beforehand or on that night, Colton and Bernard left written instructions for the police to contact Colton’s younger brother, Neal, a Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyer. They tacked a note to their bedroom door that read, “Please do not disturb us. Please don’t call 911. Please do not try to resuscitate us.”

About five days later, their housekeeper discovered the note. She summoned the building’s handyman, who called 911. The exact cause of their deaths still has not been determined since the medical examiner’s report remains pending. San Francisco police would only confirm their deaths were an apparent double suicide.

Neal Colton, who declined to comment for this story, flew out to San Francisco to identify and claim the bodies, settle their estate and pay for their cremation. Their ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay. Bernard and Colton’s wills are sealed in the Probate Court, and only immediate relatives can open them.

Within days of their bodies being found, Colton’s relatives placed an ad on Craigslist offering all the contents of the Laguna Street apartment to any takers for free. The family apparently decided to give everything away because it would have cost even more money to empty the apartment and pay another month’s rent.

Hundreds of people turned up on Feb. 15 and began snapping up 40 years of Colton and Bernard’s accumulated possessions and carting them down the San Francisco streets.

Relatives also changed Colton Bernard’s Web site, deleting everything but a brief statement on the home page saying the pair had committed suicide and had requested there be no memorial service and that donations in their memory could be sent to the donor’s favorite charity. The site received thousands of hits the week after their suicide.

The Web site has since been taken down completely.

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