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Madam With Prominent Clients Hangs Self in Jail

August 8, 1995 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ It was said that Sylvia Landry’s little black book read like a local ``Who’s Who.″

The infamous madam liked to joke with reporters about her client list and was partial to flirting with the police officers who arrested her. On her way to federal prison for interstate prostitution, she blew kisses to the camera.

In keeping with her rebellious air, Ms. Landry walked out of a Texas minimum security prison camp last Thursday _ the same day she arrived _ and wasn’t caught for two days.

Then on Sunday, a day after telling her father he would never to talk to her again, she fashioned a noose out of her bed linen, tied it to some metal mesh on the ceiling, and hanged herself in the county jail.

``She told me, `Daddy, this is the last time you’ll talk to me,‴ said Joseph Ballard. ```They’ll call you and tell you what happened.‴

Ballard, who lost another child to suicide four years ago, said he didn’t take his daughter’s threat seriously.

``I didn’t think she had guts enough,″ he said.

Neither Ballard nor authorities gave a motive for Ms. Landry’s suicide.

She had been sentenced to six years in prison for interstate prostitution; investigators say her ring masqueraded as several different escort services. Prostitutes crossed into Mississippi from Baton Rouge, which led to to the federal charges.

Ms. Landry, 39, also pleaded no contest in state court to five counts of pandering and three counts of enticing women into prostitution.

She was sent to the Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas, about 90 miles northwest of Houston. Ballard said she was despondent after being caught Saturday.

Ms. Landry was ``just a little country girl″ who became more outgoing as she grew older, her father said. One of 10 children, she moved in with a family down the street when she was 15 to escape a house full of siblings.

Ballard said Ms. Landry and his other children may have been hurt by the family’s transiency; a construction worker, Ballard moved from state to state looking for jobs.

``I didn’t ask them if they wanted to go. I just packed up my truck and moved them,″ Ballard said. ``It was probably hard on them.″