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Bridge death, once thought to be homicide, ruled suicide

William P. Pickard (Courtesy Photo / The Spokesman-Review)
William P. Pickard (Courtesy Photo / The Spokesman-Review)

Police say note clarifies case once thought homicide

Police now believe a Spokane man found dead and bound with a rope under the Sunset Bridge last June committed suicide.

Detectives found a suicide note written by William P. Pickard, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

The nylon rope used to tie Pickard’s hands and neck was apparently loose enough to have been self-applied, police told family members.

Handwriting analysis confirmed Pickard wrote the note.

“With all the craziness of it, it really kind of comes down to whether or not you believe that, and personally, I do,” said Daniel Pickard, Pickard’s brother. “I’m 100 percent behind the work the police did on this.”

Police have not released details of the note, which Daniel Pickard said was discovered in December.

“They truly thought it was a murder until this note came up,” Pickard said.

William Pickard, who went by Bill, was a father of two and a 1990 North Central High graduate who wrestled and played football but struggled with drug addiction. He was studying at Spokane Falls Community College to be a drug counselor and had a methadone prescription he filled through a local clinic when he died. Police initially thought he may have been killed in a drug robbery.

Daniel Pickard said his brother wrote in the note that the pain of a back injury sustained during a roofing job 10 years ago had become too much to bear.

“Just in the last few months before his death it had gotten way, way worse. He was just at his wits end with it, it sounds like,” Pickard said. “If he would have known how huge an outpouring of love and support came for him after this I think it would have made a difference.”

Police believe Pickard died early on June 30. His body was found hours later. He still had his wallet, including cash. Pickard had told his family he was going to the Swinging Doors Tavern the evening of June 29, but bar employees never saw him, and his 2007 Mercury Mariner was never spotted on parking lot surveillance cameras. The car was found July 1 in the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue, about four miles away from the bridge.

While Daniel Pickard said most of the family has accepted his brother’s suicide, some still have doubts. Sharon Whitt, a longtime friend, said she can’t believe that Pickard would take his own life.

“He would have had to have a gun to his head to write that note and jump over that bridge,” Whitt said.

Daniel Pickard said Spokane police worked “extremely hard to answer the questions” surrounding his brother’s death.

“As much as it pains me to say, it does appear that he took his own life,” Pickard said. “… The point is, people need to tell each other that they do mean something to them. I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else’s family.”