Two years to the day, and almost the precise hour and minute, of his father's arrest by the FBI, Mark Madoff, son of the disgraced Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, was found hanged inside his Manhattan apartment, an apparent suicide according to police.
Madoff had reportedly learned in the last week that he faced possible criminal charges in both London and New York.
Madoff left behind several emails, including one to his wife, Stephanie, telling her that he loved her, but no explanation of why he chose to take his life.
"I love you," the email said. "... send someone to take care of Nick."
In a separate email to his lawyer Martin Flumenbaum, Mark Madoff wrote, "No one wants to hear the truth take care of my family," according to law enforcement sources
He also sent one to his wife and to his father-in-law asking that someone come to get the couple's two-year-old child.
Upon receiving the emails, which were written in the early morning hours after 4 a.m., Stephanie, who reportedly was in Florida with at least one of the couple's other children, contacted her father. He came to the apartment and found his son-in-law hanged in the living room around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, police said. The two-year-old was sleeping peacefully in a bedroom nearby, police sources said.
Madoff had used a black dog leash to hang himself, police said. His labradoodle, Grouper, was found nearby unharmed.
"At about 7:30 this morning police responded to 158 Mercer Street," said New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly. "Mark Madoff was found hanging from a pipe in the living room of the apartment. Mr. Madoff apparently left some email notes. There was no note at the scene, but [he] communicated with members of the family."
Madoff's body has been moved to the Medical Examiner's office in Manhattan, and an autopsy is expected tomorrow.
According to sources close to the family no one could have seen the suicide coming, although Madoff, 46, had been distraught, felt unemployable, and was sure that he would never be able to extricate himself from the thickets of notoriety.
"If he asked the question, 'Would my wife and children be better off without me?' the answer would probably be yes,' '' said one person familiar with his circumstances.
Madoff and his children were being sued for all of their wealth and he faced the prospect of criminal prosecution in two countries.
He had put his Nantucket home up for sale this summer for $7.5 million. It's still listed as being up for sale, but the price has been dropped to $7 million.
Mark Madoff Said He Was 'Stunned' By The Scam
According to a source familiar with Mark Madoff, in the last two days leading up to the anniversary Mark had become "very distressed" due to media coverage and the lawsuits filed by the bankruptcy trustee seeking to recover funds for Madoff victims. He was "not handling it very well," said the source.
Martin Flumenbaum of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an attorney representing Mark and Andrew Madoff, stated: "Mark Madoff took his own life today. This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy. Mark was an innocent victim of his father's monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo. We are all deeply saddened by this shocking turn of events."
Ira Sorkin, Bernie Madoff's attorney, said, "This is a great tragedy at many different levels."
Two years ago, shortly after his father summoned him to his posh upper East Side Manhattan home to disclose the $60 billion Ponzi scheme that has cost so many their life's savings, he told friends that despite his own involvement in his father's business affairs, he was stunned when he learned of the scam. His lawyer had instructed him to have no communication at all with his father, or with his mother, Ruth Madoff, who Mark Madoff is said to have considered "an enabler."
Eleanor Squillari, Bernie Madoff's long-time personal secretary who has always believed the sons were innocent, was in tears this morning on learning the news.
"I have a hard time believing this. Mark was so sweet. He was a wonderful person and I cared about him very much. This doesn't seem like the Mark we knew."
The trustee appointed by the court to recover funds for Madoff investment fraud victims, Irving Picard, had filed numerous lawsuits against Mark and other Madoff family members seeking to recover billions.
In a statement, Picard said that Mark Madoff's death "is a tragic development and my sympathy goes out to Mark Madoff's family."
On Thursday, Picard named Mark Madoff and other family members as respondents in an $80 million suit filed against Madoff Securities International Ltd. (MSIL), the London office of the Madoff investment company.
The deadline for Picard to file suits is today at midnight.
The Bureau of Prisons cited privacy concerns in declining to answer whether Bernie Madoff had been notified of his son's death. Officials told ABC News that normally the notification would be made by staff members at the institution housing the inmate. In Madoff's case, BOP policy allows an inmate at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina to be considered for a furlough or an escorted trip to the funeral. But it is by no means guaranteed that a request by Madoff would be granted.
Madoff Gave Out Very Early Christmas Bonus
Madoff gave a surprisingly early Christmas bonus and card to the workers at the garage where he parked his black Range Rover.
Garage worker Claudio Siguencia told ABC News he was surprised when Mark Madoff came to the garage on Thursday and gave him a card that said "Merry Christmas from Mark and Stephanie" and a $400 check. Claudio, who said Madoff seemed "sad," was a generous tipper who usually gave his bonus just a few days before Christmas.
Siguencia said Madoff gave him a hug Friday night and said, "Goodbye."
Nikolay Reva, a salesmen at the Prada store near the family's apartment, said Mark Madoff and family often shopped at the store and that Madoff was down and depressed after his father's Ponzi scheme unraveled.
"You can see the person deteriorating after after what happened," said Reva. "He was still friendly just wasn't as talkative."
Reva said the Madoffs had stoped coming into the store as regularly two years ago.
"They were very nice people -- very genuine," said Reva. "He was very friendly. My associate is crying right now."
"I don't think it's the last of this tragedy," said Nick Casale, a former senior NYPD official who provided security for Mark Madoff after his father's arrest.