On Wednesday, February 25, 2009; four leaders of the Final Exit Network, a group of Death Lobby activists, were arrested in a sting operation that was carried-out by investigators in eight states and allegedly 14 sites.
The Final Exit Network is founded by Derek Humphrey, the former leader of the Hemlock Society, a group that joined with Compassion and Choices a few years ago.
The case that led to the charges was that of John Celmer, a 58 year old man who had cancer but was not terminally ill. More cases are being investigated.
According to its website, the Final Exit Network claims to be: “dedicated to serving people who are suffering from an intolerable condition.”
At the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Bi-Annual Conference in Toronto (September 2006) I learned that the Final Exit Network trained its volunteers to visit people who are considering suicide. They counsel them on effective methods and stay with them as they commit suicide to ensure that the suicide is carried out effectively and that all of the suicide device materials are removed.
An Associated Press article explained that: The Final Exit Network charges a $50 per year fee and they have more than 3000 members. Those seeking to end their lives are assigned an “exit guide” who instructs them to purchase two new helium tanks and an “exit bag.” When ready to commit suicide, the member is visited by the “exit guide” and a “senior exit guide” to lead them through the process.
According to an Associated Press article: “Investigators raided the homes of the group’s volunteers in seven of the states, a group office in Georgia and a company in Montana that authorities said supplied items used in suicides.
Those who were arrested included: Ted Goodwin, Final Exit’s recently resigned (resigned February 23, 2009) president, Claire Blehr, a member, who were both arrested at a home in northern Georgia. Maryland authorities arrested Dr. Lawrence Egbert and Nicholas Alec Sheridan who were both from Baltimore.
It is alleged that Goodwin walked an undercover agent through the steps and showed him how he holds the persons hand to prevent him/her from removing the “exit bag.”
It was reported that the authorities investigated the Final Exit Network for 8 months. The Final Exit Network were allegedly very difficult to find evidence against because of their methods that allegedly included wearing gloves at all suicides and meticulously cleaning up all evidence of involvement by Final Exit Network "Exit Guides."
The Final Exit Network is claiming to be innocent of all charges and has set up a legal defense fund.
Fortunately Goodwin allegedly let down his guard when he explained to the investigator how he holds the hands of the person who he is assisting the suicide for. You can claim that you are only holding the hands of the victims but when you have allegedly explicitely explained the how and the why of your actions.
Goodwin is the Vice-President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies and is anticipated to become its President in 2010.