- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2002

ALDEN, N.Y. (AP) Jack Henry Abbott, who turned his letters from prison to author Norman Mailer into a best-selling book that helped him get free and commit a second killing, hanged himself in his cell, officials said.
Abbott was found dead Sunday morning in his single cell at Wende Correctional Facility, said Jim Flateau, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.
He hanged himself with a bedsheet and a shoe lace and left a suicide note, Mr. Flateau said. The prison spokesman would not disclose the contents of the note.
"His life was tragic from beginning to end," Mr. Mailer said in a statement Sunday. "I never knew a man who had a worse life."
Abbott, who was 58, gained fame from writing "In the Belly of the Beast," a best seller composed of letters he wrote to Mr. Mailer from prison between 1978 and 1981.
During those years, Abbott was behind bars first for bank robbery and then for fatally stabbing another inmate. Mr. Mailer supported Abbott's parole, but six weeks after Abbott was released in 1981, he stabbed to death Richard Adan, a 22-year-old aspiring actor outside a New York City restaurant.
Abbott was sentenced to 15 years to life for manslaughter in Mr. Adan's death. He was denied parole in August and would not have been eligible again until June 2003.
In 1990, Abbott lost a nearly $7.6 million court judgment to Mr. Adan's family, who sued for proceeds from the book.
Abbott was found dead about an hour after a guard had last checked his block. An autopsy is required by state law for an unattended death.

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