May 23, 1977
Dr. Eduardo Ehrillimbal, Esq.
c/o Umbrial Consortium
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Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dr. Randolph Herquiest
Rose Bay Psychiatric Hospital
XXX XXXXXXXX XXX
Berkeley, CA 97405
I am very sorry to have been the bearer of bad news the other day. Since the business is a matter of public record now, I can confirm that Jerry McElholn died some time in the afternoon of Thursday, the 17th. A detailed account of his last few hours is still being prepared by my staff and the Berkeley Police, and as soon as I have a copy of that statement, I will forward it to your office.
Pursuant to our arrangement, I have included a copy of the note. I do apologize that I am unable to send a more accurate reproduction. While it certainly would appear to be the type of note left by a suicide, the police have some concerns about the physical arrangement of Mr. McElholn's body and have imposed a draconian blockade on all related materials. It will be some time before my staff has full access to our records again. I am, as you can imagine, none too pleased with this interference as it impacts our ability to treat the other patients.
I do, however, still have the Yellow Pages he used to craft the note, and I can tell you that his work was very precise and surgical. I am hesitant to suggest the existence of a methodology behind Mr. McElholn's letter harvesting as that would lend credence to the investigative theory that his death was something other than a spontaneous decision; however, I will note that his selection of letters followed a path of much resistance.
As I have mentioned in my recent reports to your offices (c.f. letter of Feb 5 and letter of March 6), McElholn's psychosis has taken root in the other patients at the hospital, and the name "Feral House" has become synonymous with the residents of the second floor in the East Wing, as has the insistence of referring to the entirety of the unfinished North Wing as "Trinity House." Mr. EcElhon's language, in concert with these, has been florid enough that several of my staff have been attempting to ascertain if there is a literary basis for his nomenclature—some Shakespearean re-imagining of the hospital environment as Verona, perhaps.
The remainder of the patients in Mr. McElholn's wing have been, naturally, agitated since the events of Thursday afternoon, and such confusion has not been out of keeping with the sudden loss of a fellow patient. However, the other two patients for whom you provide financial support have strayed enough from their "normal" behavioral patterns that I feel some urgency in bringing their conditions to your attention.
Mr. Kendrick has dropped all pretense of his compulsions, and has been become exceptionally calm and lucid. While this manner of subversion in a patient's mania is not unknown, I—and a few of the other doctors agree with me—believe he has shed hisand is completely sane. It is both unsettling and fascinating that the mind can heal itself so quickly, and while I am not eager to have an incident like Mr. McElholn's death repeated, I must admit to a professional curiosity as to how such trauma can effect a systemic repair on a psyche.
Mr. Barrlis, on the other hand, has become catatonic and unresponsive. Mr. Barrlis's room, by the way, is across the hall from Mr. McElholn's. While the rooms are staggered enough that one patient cannot see directly into the room of another through the small portals in the doors, they canthrough these narrow windows if they press themselves against the glass. The police have taken my security tapes for that afternoon, but in a private conversation with the technician who provided them the tapes, I have learned that both Mr. Barrlis and Mr. McElholn were at their windows at approximately the same time.
Mr. Barrlis is in a fugue state, and his only response to external stimuli is to repeat the same phrase three times. "Tell the, tell the : the holy ghost has come." I am searching our notes and transcripts for some reference to this statement, but as I am fighting both entropy and police bureaucracy, it may be some time before I can offer you any assessment on the meaning of his words.
In closing, I would like to offer only one observation about Mr. McElholn's note. The inclusion of the complete word-"abattoir"—at the bottom of the page seems incongruous with the concerted constructive effort of the rest. Mr. McElholn's handwriting has degraded greatly in the last few years, and as part of our relationship, I have been personally transcribing all of his notes. While the script shows, in many ways, aand determination that I haven't seen in some time, there are some that are disconcerting. The manner in which the "a"s break the flow, for example. Mr. McElholn's lettering has always been fully cursive, and his letters are written as a contiguous stroke. If asked to go on the record about this writing, I would attest that it is, indeed, the physical work of Mr. McElholn's own hand, but I would refrain from commenting on the psychological identity of the writer.
As always, my best to your family.