Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

August 3, 2007

Did I Hear Jeremy Blake's Last Words? (pt. 1)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:20 pm

You know this desultory investigative-blogging thing may really have something to it. I mean I wouldn’t have heard what may be Jeremy Blake’s last words if I’d been reporting in a conventional way. I don’t know if they were his very last words, nor does the source to whom they were addressed, but they were uttered not long before he walked into the waves at Rockaway Beach and drowned. (BTW New Jersey authorities have confirmed–with dental records–that the body found floating off the Jersey shore was in fact Jeremy’s).

I heard his voice on a cellphone voicemail recording. The message didn”t contain any deep revelation or smoking gun, but it does suggest that up til close to the end he hadn’t decided on whether to kill himself. At least that’s one interpretation of what I heard.

But to return to the haphazard but effective methodology here… I suppose that it’s in some way apropos to use blogging as a way of looking into the death of a blogger. And because of my blogging about the suicides somebody I barely knew (but know to be reliable) and wouldn’t ordinarily have thought of contacting in this connection, contacted me, told me he’d been a friend of Theresa Duncan, the suicide-blond blog diva and her art star boyfriend Jeremy Blake who both killed themselves last month to the great puzzlement of those who (like me) only knew Theresa through her genuinely impressive blog, “The Wit of the Staircase”. And that he had a story to tell that was somewhat different from the perhaps over-romanticized picture I’d painted of the two just on the basis of knowing her blog persona.

This person put the final message (the last one he got anyway) in the context of a kind of traumatic experience with the doomed couple, in which all of a sudden, after becoming close, out of the blue they turned on him, accused him of conspiring with their unnamed enemies, sent him brutal, threatening emails and forced him to break off contact with them. This was almost a year ago.

I’ve read the emails Jeremy, Theresa and my source exchanged and I’ll go into them further in a later post, but they’re pretty shocking, offer a different, disturbing and painful picture of the Theresa whose blog was so sophisticated and life-affirming, and Jeremy who seemed so stable to so many people. (My source, by the way is not a scientologist, or CIA operative, and still retains a kind of baffled affection and respect for the couple and can’t figure out what went wrong).But his story is similar to reports from people in comments and in the recent LA Weekly story by Kate Coe:

In any case after my source had heard nothing from either of them since the blow up, on the night of Jeremy’s suicide, Jeremy had made a phone call and left him a voicemail message. (Unfortunately my source was out of cell coverage range on a vacation). A message asking for “advice”. That’s it. No urgency. No mention of Theresa. he just wanted “advice”.

When my source got the message the following day he still didn’t know that Theresa had committed suicide the week before, nor that by then Jeremy, who had found her body, had just taken his life. He sent him an e mail asking Jeremy how he could help him.

My source was, needless to say, upset that he hadn’t been in range to take the call when it came and perhaps talk Jeremy out of killing himself. Whatever differences they’d had he’d have done anything to prevent what happened. And it torments him that if Jeremy was still seeking “advice” that late hour, it suggests he wasn’t sure he would go through with the suicide. It may not have made a difference, but it’s one of the ugly legacies suicides leave behind for those who would want to save them from themselves.

What struck me about listening to the voice mail was how matter of fact, non desperate Jeremy’s voice sounded. What was going through his head? He had everything to live for–except for Theresa. They’d become an inseparable unit believing it was them against the world, and so he must have felt some obligation to leave the world with her.

My source told me more about the crash and burn trajectory of his relationship with the doomed couple and I’ll perhaps paraphrase some of them in my next post along with some other things I’ve learned in the interim since my last post.

I’m not sure how deeply I want to go into them. As I’ve mentioned before there are two schools of thought on the question of what was going on in their lives: they were really being harassed or they had the delusion of being harassed.

And I still haven’t come close to figuring out the big question: just why–why now–anyway, Theresa Duncan decided to do herself in and Jeremy evidently felt compelled to follow.

But thank you to all those who have helped edge closer to the truth about this tragedy.

To be continued.


  1. You leave out a third possibility or “school of thought”, which is the one all evidence points to: they were harassers themselves, relentless ones.

    Comment by Eric F — August 4, 2007 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  2. Wit of the Staircase gets about 7000 hits a day.
    Theresa’s blog was read around the world,in her wake she is praised for her dynamic personality and intelligence-one webblog event submits that this is all ARG, a game-Theresa would be flattered,certainly capable of masterminding such a concept.The fact is her real life is as hyperdynamic as it reads.
    The people who discount Theresa and Jeremy’s claims-who needs the CIA and CoS with friends like them.You tell people the real shit going down in your life and they degrade you,how many times do I get to read GLenn O’Brien’s disregard of Theresa’s concerns as improbable-he never said this to her face-otherwise his word would for sure not be the last post on Staircase.I bet the emails you ‘ve read would confirm this in terms of how T & J react to feeling betrayed.
    I don’t believe she killed herself-I’m sure I’ve lost you all now-I fucking knew her-I was even able to give her the benefit of the doubt,from her note reading she was at peace-it’s not gloom and doom it’s just exactly what she writes-she is at peace so let her rest,her personal reasons are her own damn business to quote her film THE HISTORY OF GLAMOUR-the people who made this most excellent bit of film,were not done living,even if they did make it years ago.
    The people messing with T&J what was their mission-what was the objective-I bet you there was one!
    For sure they had Theresa and Jeremy ill at ease-forget the LA times katie Coe was just showing off a new words she’s learned(it means lacking authentication)see if you can figure out which word I mean.If you were being followed harassed,having your domicile invaded, a feeling of paranoia,a warranted sense of paranoia might take hold-what’s everyone’s point-they didn’t off themselves out of paranoia,they weren’t push over,no matter who the big bad wolf is.You all keep branding them,coping out-the idea that is a risk is that they
    wanted to live-and someone else didn’t want them to.
    The CIA targets individuals just like Theresa-Jean Seberg,John Lenon.
    Peace out Theresa
    you outclassed most everyone writing about you.I love reading the ones who claim to have been intimidated by her-it’s because their own ego’s were competing with TD-Theresa wasn’t competing she got it,she was on her own trip-I wasn’t intimidated by her,I was in awe-like the very first time I saw her,when she opened the door-it was like Weird Science when they had created a woman.
    She was the first person in my life
    to only ever say yes,only yes.

    Comment by Mike Payne — August 5, 2007 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  3. Why is it that all these people who claim to have known them never let their own names or identities be used? NOT ONE person who has talked about them, good or bad, except for maybe Glenn O’ Brien. who is a well known journalist. And then there is Kate Coe. Who doesn’t seem to have known her that well at all.
    It’s all a bunch of hooey.
    One way or the other, with time, it will all be cleared up, but right now there is so much total bullshit being thrown all over the place, that it may be a while before someone really gets to the bottom of it.
    In the meantime, Ron, please remember, you are a FICTION writer, not an investigative journalist. You don’t know a real source from some joker pulling on your leg.

    Dear Irina,

    I don’t know where you get the idea I’m a “FICTION writer” as you put it. A glance at the left hand column of my blog might helped you realize your error. But I guess you were too eager to denounce the factuality of everyone else.

    Contrary to your assssertion, I’ve been an investigative reporter for more than three decades, have published two 500 page books investigating intellectual controversies and four books that collect my investigative reporting on crime and controversies for places like The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The Atlantic and The New Yorker. In addition I have taught at three journalism schools.(Columbia, NYU, and the University of Chicago) So I would disagree with your comment about knowing how to evaluate sources.What makes you such an expert? Tell us your qualifications.

    I have have been trying to give readers a picture of the wildly conflicting stories about the couple and haven’t taken sides because I don’t think there’s enough information to draw conclusions, but believve that there’s no way to “get to the bottom” of the matter that doesn’t involve asking questions and sifting through the answers because I was touched by the beauty and intelligence of Theressa’s blog and hoped to learn what happened to her. What makes you think things will magically be “all cleared up” by themselves?

    And I hope you won’t mind my asking, what qualifies you to draw conclusions and insult everyone else? Did you know the couple? Tell us about them, then. I’m fascinated by your know-it-all tone and your evident sense of superiority to everyone else, including commenters to this blog. How do you know what is bullshit and what isn’t? What are you basing your judgments on? Why don’t you enlighten us, tell us what is and isn’t true, what’s “bullshit” and how you know.

    How about adding one, just one, specific piece of truth. How else will we be able to “get to the bottom of it” if people as knowing as you hold back.

    I’ve been very careful to maintain that I don’t know the truth of what’s happened, that I have manymore questions than answers. I’m seeking answers amidst conflicting claims. And by the way, if you had bopthered to read mylast post you’d see I know the name of the source in my last post and I have emails Theresa and Jeremy sent him to back up his story. I make it a point to distinguish fact from opinion. Since you feel free to insult everyone else, please tell us what you know, I challenge you to add one piece of truth, and I’ll be happpy to publish it.

    I await your reply. And by the way since you accuse others of withholding names, do I have your permission to publish yours?

    Comment by Irina Good — August 5, 2007 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

  4. Ron:

    Have a look at this Charm School blog thread on TD if you haven’t already:

    There are many contributions from those who knew T&J personally, and those who knew T only through her Wit blog. It’s a much-needed and very emotional airing of these contributors’ laundry.

    You get the clear impression that Theresa’s personality was multi-faceted and that different people seemed to have known very different versions of her. It actually makes her seem even more complex and fascinating than what’s been written in the investigative press.

    I found it to be a very illuminating and riveting read. Perhaps you will too.

    Best Regards,


    Comment by Jon — August 8, 2007 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  5. my sincere apologies. i didn’t take the time to look at your site. i was clicking around and just read the post quickly and glanced at the titles of your books. it was bad etiquitte on my part for sure.
    there has been so much weirdness about this whole story, i mistook this site for just another crazy blog posting heresay.
    again, after properly looking at your site, i realize that is not the case and i am truly, truly sorry for the last paragraph of my previous post.

    Comment by irina good — August 9, 2007 @ 2:46 am | Reply

  6. So much chaff and white noise, it’s now impossible to determine what’s real and what’s fake.

    See the new novel, “The Execution Channel,” in which contractors create events and interpretations that seem real and just a bit off-kilter, confusing everyone and creating a scenario in which everyone circles the wagons and then shoots inward instead of out at the enemy, thus taking each other out.

    Misinformation and misdirection is now so apparently in play in this affair that truth and fiction no longer can be distinguished from one another.

    Caveat reador, one might say.

    Comment by ohjoeyjoey — August 9, 2007 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  7. I did not know the couple at all, but loved her blog, and now find myself obsessed with the story. Why would a couple who seemed to be living such an ideal, urban, creative life make this choice? I’m an English teacher, drowning in papers with five kids at home too and I can only dream of such a life. At any rate, the more I read about this story, the more baffling and surreal it gets–I feel like the main character in “The Crying of Lot 49.” Thanks for your work investigating this; perhaps your subsequent posts will provide more clarity about what happened, though it’s doubtful we’ll ever fully understand I guess.

    The Crying of Lot 49 is one of my very favorite modern novels (and still lPynchon’s best, I think). Did things seem that way for Theresa? I wish I knew.

    Comment by Sandy Starkey — August 9, 2007 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

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