View Full Version : Ferrari suicide mystery

07-24-2004, 05:46 PM
Parents, police differ on role of cold pills

Emily Bittner
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 23, 2004 12:00 AM

Hunkered in the driver's seat of a brand-new Ferrari, surrounded by police officers, 20-year-old Troy Kaufman pointed his hunting rifle at his right temple and pulled the trigger.

The shot ended his young life but began a mystery.

Police ask if this was a last act of desperation for a troubled young man who didn't want to go to jail for stealing his dream car.

But his parents hold on to the notion that it was a violent reaction to an over-the-counter cold remedy that teens across the country are using for a cheap high. They believe it triggered a psychotic reaction that sent him on a violent rampage at a luxury Scottsdale dealership May 21.

Suicide warning signs
• Talks about suicide.
• Preoccupied with death.
• Withdraws from friends or social activities.
• Recently had a severe loss (especially of a relationship).
• Drastically changes behavior.
• Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, hygiene.
• Prepares for death by making a will and final arrangements.
• Gives away possessions.
• Increases drug, alcohol use.
Source: American Association of Suicidology

This week the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office released a toxicology report that showed low levels of dextromethorphan in Troy's blood. It wasn't enough to cause the kinds of behavior seen in severe abuse cases, but authorities say they can't rule out the possibility that Troy may have had an extreme reaction.

For Lisa Kaufman, that is the only thing that makes sense in explaining the loss of her only child. She is taking anti-anxiety medications to dull the pain. She hasn't been able to read her hometown newspaper for fear she'll see something bad about her son, but she hears the whispers around town.

She can't stop thinking about the little things her son did for her.

Who will explain how to use her digital camera?

Change her oil?

Program the VCR?

Just after his death, Troy's parents, who divorced when he was 10, cleaned out his two-bedroom Phoenix apartment. They emptied the refrigerator of a week's worth of groceries, packed his motorcycle magazines and carried the used furniture down three stories.

While sifting through his belongings, his parents found what they think may be a clue to his death: four empty packets of Coricidin, a cough and cold medicine that is increasingly being abused by teenagers.

The Kaufmans said their son didn't do drugs, but believe he read about Coricidin on the Internet and decided to experiment with it. According to the toxicology report, Troy used what seemed to be a "therapeutic" level of the medicine, said Norman Wade, director of the toxicology lab at the Medical Examiner's Office.

Wade's investigators screened for alcohol and more than 1,000 drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine or barbiturates. They found nothing. Troy's father, Greg Kaufman, moved to the Valley to be with his son. Now he says he can't stay here alone and is going back to Wisconsin.

In dreams now, he pleads with Troy not to do it.

Troy grew up in Combined Locks, a northeastern Wisconsin town of about 2,400 on the outskirts of Appleton.

Despite his parents' divorce, family was a mainstay in his life.

Troy tried Little League and karate but preferred riding four-wheelers in the woods with his cousins and mom most weekends.

He also liked helping his dad at work as a groundskeeper for major league baseball farm teams. Troy, at 7, was allowed to ride most of the equipment at the Appleton Foxes' stadium, then a Kansas City Royals affiliate, he said.

Sometimes before games, Greg would radio the crew and tell them to "have my kid bring the three-wheeler into the stadium."

Troy dragged the infield and relished the cheering crowds.

The summer the Kaufmans divorced, Greg got his dream job in Florida as the groundskeeping superintendent of the New York Mets' spring training site. He was making more money than ever but left at the end of the season.

It was too far from his boy.

"I could never have gotten all those years back," Greg said. "He was my whole world."

Interest in mechanics
Stocky with dark hair, Troy struggled with high school and dropped out when he was 16.

He also had a few minor run-ins with police for traffic and truancy violations.

At school, he liked computer classes but not much else, his parents said. His school didn't offer classes in fields that interested him, like mechanics and shop, his mother said.

A few years later, tired of hefting produce in a supermarket, he realized he needed a diploma.

"He was real proud when he got his GED" a year ago, Greg said.

Troy's interest in mechanics flourished. As a boy, he dismantled and rebuilt the family's lawn mower. As a teenager, he turned to motorcycles and cars.

Last winter, he researched schools for hours on the Internet and found the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix.

He told his parents it was just right.

Troy dreamed of getting his license, opening his own shop and buying a Ferrari.

Troy's father also looked to the Valley for a new start and an opportunity to live with his son again. Greg found a groundskeeping job at the Peoria Sports Complex. The pair spent three months planning the road trip to this new life, shopping for the ideal vehicle to carry Troy's motocross bike. Troy loaded the 1997 maroon conversion van so full that there was barely enough room for his father's clothes.

All the way, they talked about movies and their plans to get rich. They arrived in early March, just before Troy's 20th birthday and settled at a north Phoenix apartment with a view of the mountains.

"We didn't know anybody, so everywhere we went, we went together," Greg said.

Troy was supposed to start classes May 24, three days after he killed himself, according to school officials, who said Troy gave no indication that he wouldn't show up.

Car of his dreams
A week before the suicide, Greg returned to Wisconsin to take care of some business. While he was gone, he called Troy three or four times a day.

"Troy was my best friend," Greg said.

While his father was away, Troy's mother and grandmother visited and headed north to the Grand Canyon and all over the Valley.

"We had so much fun, and we were talking about the next time we were coming back," Lisa said.

They drove around mansions near the McDowell Mountains and happened upon Motorsports of Scottsdale, tucked in among Scottsdale Airpark office buildings. Inside, millions of dollars worth of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces gleamed on the polished black showroom floor.

Troy wanted to go inside. His grandmother was afraid they wouldn't fit in.

He told her: "Grandma, they won't know that you can't afford it. I just want to go sit in one."

She waited in the car while Troy and his mother went in.

The employees were polite, but signs read, "Thank you for not touching."

After they left, Troy told his grandmother, "Someday I'm going to own one."

A few weeks later, on May 15 while his father was still away, Troy bought $90 in groceries from Fry's, enough milk, ice cream, chicken breasts and taco seasonings to last him at least a week.

Four packets of Coricidin - about 80 tablets, enough for 40 doses - were on the receipt, too. On May 21, Troy's parents began to worry because they played phone tag and hadn't talked to him all week.

Their worries were justified.

About 3 p.m. that day, Troy cruised by Motorsports of Scottsdale in his maroon van.

Fifteen minutes later, dressed in cargo shorts and a golf shirt, he returned.

This time he stayed.

He pulled out a Bushmaster hunting rifle and a handful of ammo and strode toward the detail bay, where a red 2004 Ferrari 360 Spider was parked.

Customers and employees ran from the showroom on another side of the business.

Troy fired a warning shot into a wall.

"I'm taking this car," he said.

The store's owner approached as he sat in the driver's seat, but when he saw the gun, he ran, too.

The keys to Troy's $310,000 dream ride were at his fingertips, in the ignition. He tried and tried to turn the starter. He didn't realize that the car wouldn't start unless the driver pressed a security button on the key fob.

He stormed into the service area.

"How do you start the car? How do you start it?" he screamed.

The employees saw him coming and locked all the doors.

"How does it start?" he screamed again.

He fired eight rounds into a glass door and stepped through it.

The parts manager didn't run fast enough.

He forced her to the ground and held the gun to her head.

He demanded, again, "How do you start the car? How do you start it?"

She didn't know and he let her go.

He bolted back to the Spider.

By then, police arrived. They took cover and shouted at him to drop the gun.

Troy made it to the Ferrari as they closed in on him.

That's when police heard a single shot.

Family points to drug
Like his former wife, Greg Kaufman believes the Coricidin played a role in transforming his son, who spent hours training his mother's Shi Tsu Pepper and mowing his grandfather's lawn, into a boy they couldn't recognize.

Coricidin contains dextromethorphan, or DXM, which is used in more than 100 other over-the-counter medicines. Its manufacturer and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America say DXM is a safe ingredient when used according to package directions.

When taken to get high, DXM can produce hallucinogenic effects and a feeling of disassociation from the body.

Calls to poison centers about DXM abuse have doubled in the past four years, said Rose Ann Soloway, associate director of the American Association of Poison Control Centers in Washington, D.C.

The product's maker, the Schering-Plough Corp. in New Jersey, is working with pharmacies and the partnership to educate parents and kids about Coricidin misuse, spokeswoman Julie Lux said.

No organization keeps track of deaths attributed to DXM, but in one Kansas case, a 19-year-old man fatally stabbed another man after combining up to 16 Coricidin tablets with alcohol and cocaine.

Five percent to 10 percent of people have extreme reactions to certain drugs that the rest of the population doesn't have, Wade said, noting that it is possible Troy had such a reaction to the DXM.

Scottsdale police Detective John Kirkham believes Troy only wanted the Ferrari.

"He had ample opportunity to hurt a lot of people," he said. "He wasn't there to kill."

That's small comfort for Lisa .

For her, the only way she can make sense of Troy's death is the cold medicine. "It's the pills," Lisa said. "He didn't know what he was doing. I believe that this stuff, it just puts you into a dream form and you go ahead and react."

Moving on now
In Wisconsin, his parents are struggling with regular life.

Greg has applied for landscaping jobs in Appleton.

"I think about all our memories, everything all the way back to when he was a kid, how much I loved him, how much I need him," Greg said. "There's going to be a hole in my heart forever."

Lisa talks to Troy in her prayers. His great-grandmother passed away at the end of June and told Lisa before she died that she would take care of him.

"We all just hope that it's a good place," she said.

"When you go to church, that's what they say, that things are better there. But we don't know. No one knows. . . . I just hope he is OK after everything that happened."

Lisa relives a conversation she had with him years ago, after the son of one of her friends killed himself.

Troy told her he would never do the same thing.

"He knows how many people he would hurt," Lisa said. "There's no way he would ever want to hurt me. If he meant this intentionally, he would have called and at least said, 'I love you, Mom.' There was nothing."

Story Here: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/n...3ferrari23.html (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0723ferrari23.html)

chris hansen
07-24-2004, 07:32 PM
Call me an incosiderate, evil, cold, heartless bastard but I'm sick and tired of people who can't handle their shit going and putting holes in their brains. This kid obviously underestimated the super awesomeness that is DXM and wigged out like a pussy. Goddamned assholes like this ruin the good times for those of us who can handle it. I wish I could bring these bitches back to life so I could kill them myself.

Ok I'm done with this rant and I'm sorry for the masses I'm sure to have offended with this post, but I just want to voice my opinion.

Infected Method
07-24-2004, 08:15 PM
Originally posted by Dex-inator@Jul 24 2004, 06:32 PM
Call me an incosiderate, evil, cold, heartless bastard but I'm sick and tired of people who can't handle their shit going and putting holes in their brains. This kid obviously underestimated the super awesomeness that is DXM and wigged out like a pussy. Goddamned assholes like this ruin the good times for those of us who can handle it. I wish I could bring these bitches back to life so I could kill them myself.

Ok I'm done with this rant and I'm sorry for the masses I'm sure to have offended with this post, but I just want to voice my opinion.
I dont know.
I dont think this was the DXM, I think it was just coincidental.
He had therapeutic levels of DXM in him.
I think it was just a coincidence that he had small ammounts of DXM in him at the time of suicide, and that he bought those 4 packages.

What happened to those 4 packages anyways? Did police find them?

07-25-2004, 03:01 AM
He had more problems than his parents knew unfortunately.


07-25-2004, 03:20 AM
Yeah, I don't think tha author intended to correlate the kid's DXM use with his suicide, but obviously the mother is is full denial over her son's mental state at the time and will probably prevent her from comming to terms with her son's death which is unfortunate.

07-25-2004, 08:09 AM
absolutely euph.

07-25-2004, 11:40 PM
Originally posted by Paralysis@Jul 25 2004, 02:01 AM
He had more problems than his parents knew unfortunately.

Aye... :sly:

07-27-2004, 03:17 PM
I know someone who hung himself on his grad night in his basement. His mother came down to wake him up cause his friend came over to pick him up to go camping. His mom found him in his basement hanging from a rope from a pipe. There was no note or any form of reasoning for it.

07-27-2004, 08:15 PM
Four packets of Coricidin - about 80 tablets, enough for 40 dosesThere are 16 tablets in a box. That makes 64 tablets. It's a bit of an exaggeration to "round" 64 up to 80, don't you think?