TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) – A 53-year-old wife and mother fatally shot herself soon after faxing a letter to her mortgage company saying that by the time they foreclosed on her house that day, she would be dead.

Police in Taunton said Carlene Balderrama used her husband’s high-powered rifle to kill herself Tuesday afternoon, after faxing the letter at 2:30 p.m.

The mortgage company called police, who found Balderrama’s body at 3:30 p.m. in her brown-shingled raised ranch house. The auction was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and interested buyers arrived at the property in Taunton, about 35 miles south of Boston, while Balderrama’s body was still inside, according to police chief Raymond O’Berg.

Police did not immediately release the name of the mortgage company. O’Berg said Balderrama’s fax read, in part, “By the time you foreclose on my house I’ll be dead.”

O’Berg also said a suicide note found next to Balderrama told her husband, John, and 24-year-old son to “take the (life) insurance money and pay for the house.”

Balderrama’s husband filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy three years in a row, between 2004-2006, but the courts dismissed the petitions. Those are reorganizations in which debtors with regular income work out repayment plans with creditors.

Debtors who declare bankruptcy under Chapter 13 are generally allowed to keep their homes while paying off their debts over three to five years under a court-approved bankruptcy plan.

“I had no clue,” said John Balderrama explaining that his wife handled all the couple’s finances. “I’m just lost. I tell you I’m beside myself.”

He said Carlene had been intercepting letters from the mortgage company and shredding them without his knowledge. He had no idea she hadn’t paid the mortgage in 42 months.

“She put in her suicide note that it got overwhelming for her,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday. “Apparently she didn’t have anyone to talk to. She didn’t come to me. I don’t know why.”

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.

Noreen Mendes, who lived about four houses down the street from Balderrama, said she often stopped and chatted with her. Mendes said Balderrama never mentioned any financial problems, but often spoke about repairs the family was making to their house. Two weeks ago, a contractor came to the house to give Balderrama an estimate on a roof replacement, Mendes said.

“She was just so sweet, so nice. I never realized she had any problems, so it is just shocking,” Mendes said.


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