When friends stopped at Nikayla Baldomero’s Coconut Creek home about 4:30 a.m. on a Monday in July, Joseph Brown was there, and the two of them were drug-impaired and “out of it,” according to newly released documents.
The visitors felt unwanted. Baldomero kept the conversation short, giving them the sense they were being shooed away. They left quickly.
Two hours later and about four miles away at Terramar Park, a passer-by found Baldomero, 24, and Brown, 22, hanging from a pavilion pole. In their pockets were letters for their mothers, repeating over and over they were sorry, they loved their families, it wasn’t their fault. It was the drugs.
Now, a year later, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has finished its investigation. The conclusion: The pair made a death pact and carried it out together.
Investigative documents reveal that their suicide planning began hours, if not days, before the hanging, and that they blamed Roxicodone, a brand of the pain drug oxycodone. They described the drug as an insatiable monster that had taken over their lives and would never let them go, making death the only way out.
“I am miserable. Roxies have completely ruined any chance of hope I had at happiness,” Baldomero wrote in her note. “I feel like the damage is so severe on my brain, my emotions, my thought process, that I can never go back to who I was.”
Both Baldomero and Brown had attended drug-treatment programs, to no avail. In the weeks before her death, Baldomero was depressed over breaking up with a boyfriend. She pawned her belongings and paid a pharmacy $450 for a month’s supply of oxycodone, the Sheriff’s Office determined.
Baldomero and Brown had oxycodone in their systems when they died, toxicology tests showed. Also, there were traces of opiates in Baldomero and anti-anxiety medication in Brown.
Brown, a friend of Baldomero’s ex-boyfriend, wrote that he had contemplated suicide for years. Apparently after finding in Baldomero a like-minded peer who also had lost hope, he decided to go through with it.
A Boca Raton woman who briefly shared a hotel room with the pair said Brown, her friend, was in love with Baldomero and saw suicide as part of the romance.
He “probably figured that they’d meet on the other side, like a Romeo-and-Juliet-type thing,” said Jennifer Burkhardt. “I think he believed that.”
While drug use or depression may have contributed to the Parkland suicides, neither could fully explain the act. There’s never a single event or factor that leads to suicide, experts say.
Suicides account for 30,000 deaths a year in the United States, but suicide pacts are rare, fewer than 0.5 percent, said Dr. Douglas G. Jacobs, founder of Screening for Mental Health Inc. in Wellesley Hills, Mass., a group that provides resources for mental health education, screening and treatment.
The pair usually shares underlying pathologies such as depression, a history of drug abuse, or suicide attempts or threats. Substance abuse, mental disorders or both have been found in most people who die by their own hand.
When both mood disorders and substance abuse are present, the risk of suicide is much greater, particularly for adolescents and young adults, the American Association of Suicidology says.
Addicts take several steps to recovery, moving from detoxification to a treatment program and support groups, Jacobs said.
“It’s not something that’s going to get fixed overnight, but all substance abuse is definitely treatable,” he said. “It’s sort of like starting a life all over again.”
The mothers of Baldomero and Brown last year told the Sun Sentinel their children had touched many lives. They have declined to speak further, and neither set of parents could be reached for comment recently.
Nikole “Nikayla” Baldomero was an aspiring singer and actress. She wrote on her Facebook page that she planned to graduate from Florida Atlantic University this year.