Enron Executive Found Dead

ByABC News
January 25, 2002, 12:33 PM

H O U S T O N, Jan. 25 -- Former high-ranking Enron executive J. Clifford Baxter was found shot dead today in suburban Houston, leaving a suicide note referring to the Enron scandal, ABCNEWS has learned.

Police in Sugar Land confirmed the death of the 43-year-old Baxter, a former Enron vice chairman who had also served as chief strategy officer for the now-bankrupt energy company and was familiar with many of its inner workings.

Baxter's Mercedes-Benz was discovered early this morning, stopped in the middle of a road. Inside, Baxter had a bullet wound to the head and a revolver at his side. Police confirmed that a suicide note was found with his body.

Although it has not been released, law enforcement sources indicated to ABCNEWS that in the note, Baxter wrote that he could not stand the pain of the Enron scandal.

"We feel it was a suicide but we are taking all precautions necessary," said a police spokesman.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Cliff Baxter," said an Enron statement released today. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Baxter was married and had two children.

Mentioned in Whistleblower's Memo

Baxter first joined Enron in 1991, and resigned as vice chairman of the company on May 2, 2001.

"Over the past 10 years, Cliff has made a tremendous contribution to Enron's evolution, particularly as a member of the team that built Enron's wholesale business," said Jeff Skilling, then Enron's CEO, in a statement released by the company at the time.

The release said Baxter had resigned to spend more time with family.

But Baxter had also apparently been upset with Enron's bookeeping tactics. He was mentioned in a whistleblowing memo that another Enron vice president, Sherron Watkins, sent to Enron CEO Kenneth Lay in August. Lay had just replaced Skilling at the company's helm.

"Cliff Baxter complained mightily to Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM," wrote Watkins in her memo, which was publicly released earlier this month.