Saturday, 2:15 PM
Facing foreclosure, Taunton woman commits suicide
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
TAUNTON -- The housing crunch has caused anguish and anxiety for millions of Americans. For Carlene Balderrama, a 53-year-old wife and mother, the pressure was apparently too much to bear.
Police say that Balderrama shot herself Tuesday afternoon 90 minutes before her foreclosed home on Duffy Drive was scheduled to be sold at auction. Chief Raymond O'Berg said that Balderrama faxed a letter to her mortgage company at 2:30 p.m., telling them that "by the time they foreclosed on the house today she'd be dead."
The mortgage company notified police, who found her body at 3:30 p.m. The auction had been scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Balderrama used her husband's high-powered rifle, O'Berg said.
She left a note for her family saying they should "take the [life] insurance money and pay for the house," O'Berg said.
Neighbors on this forested side street said Balderrama had lived in the two-story, brown-shingled, raised ranch for about four years with her husband, John, who is a plumber, and their 24-year-old son.
Joe Whitney, who works with her husband, said that Balderrama handled the bills in the household and that the husband was unaware of the foreclosure.
"John didn't even know about it, that's the surprise," Whitney said outside the home, where he had come to comfort the family. "It's just one of those awful, awful tragic events."
Noreen Mendes said she often spoke to Balderrama on her morning walks on Duffy Drive and described her as "quiet and sweet."
"I never would have guessed that she had any problems whatsoever," Mendes said. "All I can do this morning is pray and pray and pray."