Federal agents raid California suicide kit seller - KMOV.com

Federal agents raid California suicide kit seller

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A 91-year-old California woman who sells helium hood kits that people can use to kill themselves said her home was raided by federal agents Wednesday, and her computers, sewing machine, and boxes of ready-made kits were seized as evidence.  

Sharlotte Hydorn is the owner and founder of The GLADD Group. The company's kits -- essentially a plastic bag and clear tubing -- can be purchased through mail or telephone order for $60. 

In December, a 29-year-old Eugene, Ore., man killed himself using a kit he bought from Hydorn to asphyxiate himself with helium. Appalled Oregon lawmakers are working on a bill that would make it a felony to sell or transfer such a kit to Oregonians. 

According to Hydorn, about a dozen federal agents knocked on her door in El Cajon, Calif., at 7:30 a.m. and spent the next 10 hours packing up "boxes and boxes and boxes" of stuff and leaving a mess at her home. 

Hydorn said she is being accused of mail fraud and that she still had not read through the roughly 15-page search and seizure warrant signed by a judge from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. 

Special Agent Darrell Foxworth, of the FBI's San Diego office, confirmed that agents were at the woman's home Wednesday morning. Foxworth said he could not comment on the contents of the warrant.  

"We were at that location," Foxworth said. "We served a federal search warrant authorized by a federal judge in connection with a criminal matter. It's an ongoing investigation."  

In a phone interview 45 minutes after agents left her home, Hydorn said she was still shaken and eating ice cream to feel better.  

"It's been a very tiring day," Hydorn said. She said she would be seeking legal counsel.  

Hydorn said she was completely surprised when the doorbell rang and people started pounding and shouting that they would break it down. She opened the door, and about a dozen armed men had guns out, she said.  

"It was a new experience, and at my age, I've lived through enough things," she said.  

Hydorn said officials took about 20 suicide kits that were ready to mail out. She said officials also showed her a list of kits she put in the mail Tuesday and that they were intercepted at the post office.  

Hydorn has been in business for three years and said she is trying to help people in pain, not make money off the kits.  

Agents also seized all of Hydorn's correspondence with individuals at the Final Exit Network, a group that has 3,000 members nationwide and provides support to people seeking to end their lives.  

The network has faced protracted legal battles in Arizona and Georgia about whether their support breaks state assisted-suicide laws.  

Attorney Robert Rivas, the network's general counsel, said the network is not breaking any laws and that its members strictly offer counseling and emotional support.   

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
 

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