White’s Life Reflected His Confusion; Friends Say He Died A Mystery With PM-White-Suicide Bjt
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Dan White was raised in a middle-class Irish neighborhood, spent time as both a policeman and firefighter, was elected overwhelmingly to city office, and died a mystery, even to his friends.
White’s friends, as well as his enemies, may never know what caused him to kill Mayor George Moscone and fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.
″Some events we wish had never occurred, but they did,″ said Inspector Frank Falzon, a longtime friend of White. ″The events of 1978 were going to play on this man the rest of his life.″
White’s body was found Monday in his car with a garden hose attached to the exhaust pipe running to the passenger compartment.
″It’s just mind-boggling,″ said Falzon.
″I was shocked but not altogether surprised,″ said Douglas Schmidt, the attorney who defended White during his notorious trial. It ended with White’s conviction on a pair of voluntary manslaughter counts in 1979.
White still ″consulted with me,″ Schmidt said. He last spoke with White four or five weeks ago and saw him about two months ago, he added.
″The man had a severe problem of long standing,″ said Schmidt, who characterized White as ″always vacant and depressed.″
One of nine children in an Irish Catholic family, White’s father was a firefighter who died when Dan was 17 years old.
In 1967, White returned from a three-year stint in the Army, including one year in Vietnam. He was 21 years old.
He went on to serve as a police officer, but left the department in 1973 and became a firefighter, like his father, a year later. His commander while a firefighter was the father of Mary Ann Burns, who married White in 1976.
White won his city supervisor seat in November 1977 and shot his two colleagues barely a year later.
His release from prison Jan. 6, 1984, caused controversy since he had served only five years for the two deaths he admitted committing.
Falzon remembers vividly the day in 1978 when White walked into City Hall with his loaded police revolver.
″Here we are some seven years later,″ he said. ″We’re seeing the final chapter.″
An autopsy is scheduled for today, but there appeared little doubt that his death was the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
White left notes to his wife, mother and brother Tom, who he had invited to his house before taking his life. Police said the note to his brother apologized for the condition in which the body was found.