At 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday in June, Thomas James Ball (pictured) of Holden, Massachusetts, drenched himself with gasoline and struck a match. He burned to death at the door of the courthouse in Keene, New Hampshire.
“I saw a man standing on fire,” one eyewitness told WMUR-Channel 9. “He walked around a little bit, walked on to the grass, collapsed on all fours and literally sat there and burned.”
“Several men said their attempts to help Ball proved ineffective,” WMUR continued, “partly because it appeared he did not want to be helped. ‘He just looked like he was just chilling there, doing yoga or something. It was weird. We were all stunned,’ said witness Sean Desio.”
By air-time that evening, “Investigators [had] not released any possible motive” for this very public, agonizing, and dramatic suicide. But Ball himself solved the mystery the next day, when his last words — all 15 carefully investigated, cogently argued pages of them — reached Keene’s Sentinel.
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