Alicia Yaus was a 48-year-old mother of three who lived in Oak Park, Illinois. She was a successful businesswoman, a devoted parent, and a respected member of her community. She was last seen on November 28, 2015, driving her dark blue Volvo station wagon near Chicago and Harlem avenues. She was reported missing by her family, who were worried about her well-being. Four days later, her body was found in her car, parked behind an industrial building in Forest Park. What was Alicia Yaus’ cause of death? How did she end up in that secluded spot? And what led her to take her own life?
A Missing Person Case That Turned Into a Death Investigation
According to the Oak Park Police, Yaus was last seen around 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 28, 2015. She may have been near Harlem and 16th Street in Berwyn about two hours later, according to a surveillance photo of her car. Her family contacted the police on Sunday, November 29, after they could not reach her by phone or text.
The police issued a missing person alert, and asked the public for any information about Yaus or her car. They also checked her financial records, phone records, and social media accounts, but found no clues about her whereabouts.
On Wednesday, December 2, the police received a tip from a Forest Park resident, who reported a suspicious vehicle in a secluded area behind an industrial building. The police responded to the scene, and found Yaus’ body in her car. The car was registered to her, and matched the description and license plate number of the missing person alert.
A Suicide That Remained Unexplained
The Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on Yaus’ body, and determined that she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The police also found a charcoal grill and a hose in the car, which they believed Yaus had used to create the lethal gas. They also found a note in the car, which indicated that Yaus had intended to end her life
However, the police did not reveal the contents of the note, or the reason why Yaus had chosen to kill herself. They said that the note was personal, and that they respected the privacy of the family. They also said that they did not find any evidence of foul play, or any involvement of a third party in Yaus’ death
The family and friends of Yaus were shocked and saddened by her death. They said that they did not see any signs of depression or suicidal thoughts in Yaus, and that they did not understand what drove her to such a desperate act. They remembered her as a loving, caring, and generous person, who always had a smile and a positive attitude.
A Controversy That Sparked Outrage and Apology
Yaus’ death also sparked a controversy in the local media, especially the Wednesday Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers Oak Park and its neighboring towns. The newspaper published a detailed and graphic account of Yaus’ suicide, including the method, the location, and the note.
The article provoked a strong backlash from the readers, who criticized the newspaper for being insensitive, intrusive, and irresponsible. They said that the article was disrespectful to Yaus and her family, and that it violated the journalistic ethics and standards. They also said that the article could trigger copycat suicides, or traumatize people who were already struggling with mental health
The newspaper’s editor and publisher, Dan Haley, admitted that the article was a mistake, and that it was the result of a bad judgment by a reporter and an editor. He said that he did not read the article before it was posted online, and that he was shocked and appalled when he saw it. He said that he ordered the article to be taken down immediately, and that he apologized to the family and the public.
However, Haley also said that he could not stop the distribution of the print edition, which had already been printed and mailed. He said that he faced practical and logistical challenges, and that he had no choice but to let the print edition go out as it was.
The print edition caused more anger and grief among the readers, who said that they were disgusted and horrified by the article. Some of them said that they tried to buy up all the copies of the newspaper, to protect the family and the children from seeing it. Others said that they canceled their subscriptions, or boycotted the newspaper’s advertisers.
Alicia Yaus’ cause of death was a mystery that shook the Oak Park community. She was a woman who had everything to live for, but who chose to end her life in a tragic and inexplicable way. She was a woman who was loved and admired by many, but who also became the subject of a media scandal that outraged and hurt many. She was a woman who left behind a legacy of sorrow and controversy, but also of hope and compassion.