“THE D.C. MADAM WAS MURDERED!”
Jeanette Maier, best known as “The Canal Street Madam,” reveals a criminal pattern behind the death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey.
On the morning of May 1, 2008, “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found hanged in a storage shed near her mother’s home in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Local police wasted no time in ruling the death a suicide. But people familiar with the high-end escort service operator’s history and others who knew Palfrey personally suspected the authorities were guilty of a rush to judgment.
The 52-year-old Palfrey had been convicted on April 15 of racketeering and money laundering charges for running a prostitution ring that catered to the Washington, D.C., elite. Throughout her trial in U.S. District Court, Palfrey maintained that her company—Pamela Martin & Associates—provided escort services that were entirely legal.
HUSTLER Publisher Larry Flynt had steadfastly supported Palfrey in her efforts to exonerate herself and expose the hypocrites who had used her services. Based on phone records released by Palfrey, Flynt exposed Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter from Louisiana in July 2007 as a client of the D.C. Madam. Other names eventually linked to phone numbers in Palfrey’s records included former senior State Department official Randall Tobias and highranking military strategist Harlan Ullman. Prior to her death, Palfrey implied that she had information on several other prominent Beltway figures.
Palfrey’s sudden demise immediately generated widespread suspicion of foul play. In an interview after her body was discovered, Flynt told FoxNews.com, “I think the media should be very cautious in treating this as a suicide.” Also expressing suspicion, Fox talk-show host Geraldo Rivera called for Florida Governor Charlie Crist to order a full investigation.
D.C. private investigator Dan Moldea, who knew Palfrey and had worked with Larry Flynt to obtain her information, took the opposite view, claiming she told him she’d sooner commit suicide than go to jail. However, in a recorded interview with radio host Alex Jones shortly before her death, Palfrey declared, “No, I am not planning to commit suicide.”
Speaking with HUSTLER in 2007, Jeanette Maier—the former madam of the Canal Street Brothel in New Orleans—confirmed that D.C. Madam client David Vitter had also frequented her establishment in his pre- Washington years. Now, in the wake of the Eliot Spitzer scandal and the suspicious death of Palfrey, Maier is speaking out about the threats facing women who know too much.
HUSTLER: What was your first thought when you heard about the death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey?
JEANETTE MAIER: She was murdered! There are several reasons: She was looking at 55 years [in prison], but she would only get four to six. She was also working out a deal with someone to write a book. The owner of the condo she lived in said she was leaving with a box of papers. Where did those papers go? She also said to him, “I think people are following me.” That’s why she was going to her mother’s house. Why would a woman go to her mother’s house so her mother could find her dead? She would have hung herself in her condo if she were going to commit suicide that way.
Palfrey allegedly said she would kill herself before going back to jail.
A lot of people facing time will say stuff like that. I’ve said it, but I would never commit suicide. I did time in jail. It was a vacation. Palfrey was looking at only four to six years. There was no reason for that woman to kill herself. She had too much to gain by not doing so. The last interview she gave was on The Alex Jones Show. She’s on tape saying, “I’m not planning to commit suicide. I plan on defending myself vigorously.” She specifically said that there was a vendetta out on her and that she would likely be “suicided.”
Do you think Palfrey was murdered because of information she had, or do you think it was a revenge killing?
I think there was something she was hiding that was bigger than information she had already released. The people in the current establishment have got a lot to hide, and this lady knew a lot about them. There are rumors that Dick Cheney’s name could have been on that list, [although Palfrey admitted that she didn’t know for a fact that he was a client].
What about other cases similar to this one?
Brandy Britton, who worked for Palfrey and who saw many politicians, was also murdered right before her trial. Hung. She had everything ahead of her. She was young, bright, never talked about suicide; then she’s found hanging. [Britton allegedly was an escort for Randall Tobias.]
There’s also the case of Sylvia Landry, a Baton Rouge madam. In 1992 she opened up a business, and in ’94 she [allegedly] sent black flowers [to her clients] in the state capital because they were going to give her jail time and weren’t helping her. She escaped a federal prison only to be caught again, supposedly. Then she’s found hung in her cell [in Texas]. Why would she do that when she had money to gain by writing about these freaks? They need to reopen the Landry case.
Why has there been a pattern of hangings as opposed to other methods?
If the police go in with forensics, everything has to be perfect. [In staged gunshot suicides] the victims have to have powder on their hands and perfect aim. There’s too much that would point to murder. So the best thing to do is hang them. Then they can just say, “Oh, well, she hung herself because she was depressed.” But women don’t [usually] hang themselves; that’s a fact. First of all, we don’t know anything about tying nooses, and we like to leave a beautiful corpse.
I once had a contract on my life. The man that was supposed to carry it out actually came to me and told me I was supposed to be killed, hung. But because he knew me, he wasn’t going to do that. Hookers all know that’s how they kill. I know what to expect when they come for me. I have a big knife, just waiting. I’m ready; and believe me, you will find DNA.
What about a Louisiana connection in the Palfrey case? U.S. Senator David Vitter was named and shamed by her information.
I wouldn’t put it past anybody right now. Other than [politics in] Washington, D.C., Louisiana politics are probably the most rotten. They think of us not as ladies, but a bunch of hookers. Just another whore is dead, you know? We are mothers, sisters, daughters and grandmothers. Society has to see us differently, and they have to see the system as corrupt.
I’ve slept with people that shoot drugs and sleep with hookers on the taxpayer’s money. I know because I got a lot of your tax dollars! I asked one city politician as he was sticking a needle in his arm, “When are you guys going to fix the streets?” He looked at his arm, he looked at me and said, “These are the streets.”
If you are found hanged, how will we know it wasn’t suicide?
I would not kill myself that way. I would never hang myself. You got times when your bills are piling up, and you think, I can’t handle all the crap that’s on my shoulders right now. But you make it through and hope for the future. I’m working on a possible sitcom and a couple of book deals. Why would I kill myself knowing that there’s a possibility of me coming into a lot of money? I’ve got a whole future ahead of me, just as Deborah had, just as Landry had. We have no reason to kill ourselves.
What do you recommend to women who know too much, such as Palfrey did, and whose lives may therefore be in danger?
Don’t run, don’t hide and don’t keep quiet. Let everybody know. I said on the radio: If I am found dead, it was them. Make sure you give all your information to somebody you trust. Tell them who you think may be after you. And leave a code for your family. Let people know that if you leave a suicide note, there’s going to be a special mark on that paper, a doodle or something, that means you were forced to sign it. Don’t be afraid to continue living. Show your face, be on TV. They’re going to come after you, so get as much information out there as you can. Make them more afraid of you than you are of them.