Man Commits Suicide at Law Firm Representing Ex-Wife

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 29, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Troubled by spousal support debts that had landed him in jail, a Virginia man committed suicide at the law offices of his ex-wife.

Sadly, it's a reality that shocks legal communities all too often. Sometimes attorneys get shot; judges aren't bullet-proof either.

With every lawyer-involved death, however, it is also a reminder that legal disputes frequently find people at their lowest points. Many times, it makes things even worse.

A Danger to Himself

John Francis Wood, 52, had seen better times. He was making good money in the financial industry. Although he went through a divorce, he bounced back with a new wife.

His ex-wife, however, was not happy when he tried to reduce spousal support. He spent several weeks in jail for failing to pay, according to reports.

After he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, something else went wrong inside his head. He walked into the law offices of Maddox & Gerock with a gun, said he was a danger to himself and then ended his life there.

"If you have seen the news tonight you will have some understanding of what our office endured this evening," the law firm said on Facebook. "We cannot comment further but all of our employees are safe and okay. Please hold us in your thoughts and prayers."

Lawyer Survivors

Terri Melcher, a family practitioner in Minnesota, barely survived a similar incident. Her client's ex-husband rushed into her law firm and stabbed her 30 times in the head, face and body.

She would have died, but a two-inch tip of the blade broke off in her skull and frustrated her attacker. He then spared her and turned himself in to police.

Writing about such attacks for the American Bar Association, Todd C. Scott wrote about how attorneys can protect themselves and defend against dangerous situations. He said the goal is not to "win," but rather to get away from a potentially dangerous situation safely.

"Violent attacks committed against attorneys by clients and related parties enraged over their legal matters is nothing new," he said. "Looking out for the safety of our legal colleagues is crucial for the welfare of lawyers, their clients, and all with whom they work."

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