Town Square

Post a New Topic

Friends question circumstances surrounding woman's train suicide Monday

Original post made on May 6, 2009

In the days, weeks and months prior to Heather Russell's death in front of a train Monday morning, someone had been systematically and brutally beating the 29-year-old Palo Alto woman, friends and colleagues said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 9:53 AM

Comments (67)

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2009 at 10:06 am

How sad that she could not find someone to talk to about this "relationship".
This guy will move on to the next "relationship" and do the same thing.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2009 at 10:16 am

This is a very sad story. Can anyone recommend support or shelter programs that people in this situation can use? There must be something less drastic than reporting an abusive boyfriend to the police.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

Can you please publish a picture? It may help people to put a face to the name and help reconstruct the days she was missing by jogging memories.Many of the younger downtown workers, especially in the bars, know everyone else even if only casually. Maybe someone saw her during that time.

Sharon? There is the Battered Womens Network out of Mountain View. When there is a domestic violence incident and the police come out they have cards to hand out to the victim. Only downside is that in the last few years they have been so busy it takes a bito of time to get in there. There is a 24 hour hotline too where someone is always available to talk. These organizations can even put you up in a shelter or hotel room for a few days to get you away from your abuser. There are so many reasons a woman will stay in a horrible relationship like that, while it's terrifying to be in that relationship, sometimes it's even more scary to get out! She needed help. Sounded like she had a great family and good friends, wish she could have confided in them more.

Posted by DC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 11:15 am

"Less drastic" than reporting an abusive boyfriend to the police? If you meant "more effective," I'm in total agreement, but otherwise I'm confused why that seems so drastic. Someone who leaves bruises, black eyes and gashes requiring stitches should be reported to the police, right?

Posted by Heartbreaking, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 11:19 am

This is one of the most heartbreaking local stories I have ever read. I hope the police take this to heart & look into it more. Wherever her boyfriend is, may he learn what suffering is all about.

I recall her from Rasputin and she was outgoing, knowledgeable, intelligent and enthusiastic.

Posted by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on May 6, 2009 at 11:21 am

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

A resource for battered women: Support Network for Battered Women in Mountain View: 408-541-6100. 800-572-2782


24 hour crisis lines: Domestic-violence agencies in Santa Clara County

Asian Women's Home (408) 975-2739
Community Solutions – South County (408) 683-4118
Next Door, Solutions to Domestic Violence (408) 501-7550
Support Network for Battered Women (800) 572-2782

Other domestic-violence hotlines:
MAITRI – South Asian Languages (800) 884-8119 open M-F, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE

Help with restraining order forms, restraining order court hearings, and other family law issues:

Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) (408) 975-2730
Asian Law Alliance (408) 287-9710
Bay Area Legal Aid Society (408) 283-1535
Community Solutions – South County (408) 683-4118
LACY (help for parenting or pregnant teens) (408) 293-4790
Legal Aid Society, Santa Clara County, Family Law Section (408) 998-5200
Next Door, Solutions to Domestic Violence (408) 501-7542 Spanish (408) 501-7549
Pro Bono Project (408) 998-5298
DVLSR (free lawyer for your domestic violence hearing) (408) 998-5298
Support Network for Battered Women (800) 572-2782
SALA (60 years old or older) (408) 295-5991

Source: Santa Clara County,

Posted by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on May 6, 2009 at 11:22 am

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

YSK -- I'm working on getting a possible photo.

Posted by esme, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2009 at 11:23 am

This report insists she was missing for 3-4 days prior to her death; should I talk to someone about this? Because the last time I saw her and engaged in conversation with her was on Saturday, May 2nd.

Posted by Photo, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 11:31 am

@ Sue Dremann

Here's a link to a photo.

She's the one in the middle

Web Link

Posted by To Esme, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

Certainly, calling the Palo Alto police is a good idea, imo. Perhaps they're building a timeline on her and you can contribute to that. At the very least, it may help clarify things for her friends and family.

Posted by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on May 6, 2009 at 11:41 am

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

To Esme:

Contact Detective Victor Lopez 650-622-8048 with any info you have about her. Please also e-mail me at I'd like to talk to you and also give her family info. Also call Palo Alto police.

Here's additional resources for battered women -- these are for San Mateo County:

Commision of the Status of Women - County of San Mateo

Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention
Belmont through Palo Alto (650) 368-6655
San Mateo through Daly City 650) 692-6655
Coastside (650) 726-6655

Center for Domestic Violence Prevention
(650) 632-8515

Rape Trauma Services (Burlingame) 650 652 0598

Hot Line: Rape Trauma Services. 650-692-7273.
They help rape victims deal with difficult issues, give advice for the next step and as well as counseling.
Hot lines are available 24 hours a day. If you ever become depressed or just feel the need to talk to someone; call at anytime. Of course, everything is confidential. If you don't feel conformable talking to male volunteers, you can always ask when the next female volunteer on shift will be. The numbers for the Crisis Lines for the North County are 650-692-6662 or 650-692-6655.

Visit the web site to learn more at: Web Link


Redwood City - Fair Oaks community center

RAPE TRAUMA SERVICES Provide 24 hours Crisis Line (650) 692-RAPE for victims of sexual assault or abuse and advocacy for sexual assault survivor. Also, available is individual and group counseling services for clients as well as significant others. Call (650) 652-0598 for these services

Santa Clara county:

Rape Crisis Center 650 493 7273


Crisis Lines for the Bay Area:

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center (Dept of Public Health) - 24 hours - (415) 206-3222

Suicide and Crisis Intervention Lines - 24 hours / 7 days - (415) 781-0500

Suicide Prevention Crisis Line - (916) 368-3111 (24-hour crisis line) / (916) 368-3081

Battered Women's Alternatives - East Bay - (510) 676-2845

Battered Women's Services of San Mateo - (650) 342-0850

Community United against Violence - (415) 333-4357 (24-hour crisis line)

Source: Mary Fraser, Ph.D., De Anza College, Web Link

Posted by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on May 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Resident, Many thanks for the photo. I'm OKing with family before official posting.

Posted by RIP Heather, a resident of College Terrace
on May 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

This is very sad.I have known Heather for a while now and her killing herself is very unlike her.The police really need to question/arrest this guy [Portion removed due to some other violation of terms of use] she was seeing.She told me for many days he is ths one doing this to her and everone that hangs out in the Lyton Plaza area nows it.I tried calling the PAPD and they said they could do nothing.I have info on this matter and alot of other people do as well.I really hope the PAPD locks this guy [Portion removed due to some other violation of terms of use] up for a long time for what he did to our friend Heather.Heather we love you and are praying for you.You will be very missed.R.I.P.

Posted by sarah, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

Thank you for posting the list of support groups. I hope you can include some of those in the print newspaper as well. The police do have their place, but obviously their focus is on crime and criminals. In many situations, support services are just as, if not more important.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Esme? Call PAPD and Sheriff Lopez. The suicide itself is his investigation but maybe PA can help on the boyfriend angle.

I met Sheriff Lopez last year when someone else committed suicide by train and he is a very, very nice man. He'll listen. Its very helpful to reconstruct the victims last hours.

Unfortunately even if it were the boyfriend who was the abuser, and none of us knows that for certain yet, I don't know what can be done to him legally unless she reported the abuse and named him as her abuser when she had her wound stitched up. The report said she sat on the tracks and faced the train. that kind of leaves out anyone else at the scene contributing to what happened.

This whole thing makes me cry. I can't imagine what kind of pain she was in to look at her fate head on and not move. I still see in my mind the look on the face of the girl I saw. Our eyes met more than once. I wish I had trusted my own judgment more.

I think when anyone sees a person on the tracks doing ANYTHING call the police immediately! I do now. I don't care if it turns out to be nothing. That's better than the alternative.

A few months ago my daughter and I were crossing the tracks at E. Meadow and saw a young student on the tracks. Actually standing IN the rails! She had iPod buds in her ears and was circling around aimlessly, just like the girl I saw on Churchill after her first dry run.

We pulled over to watch her. Not only wasn't she leaving the area, she wasn't looking up or around her. At this point she was standing stock still and was looking down at her feet moving them like she was stuck in the rails. It was scary! My daughter saw how upset I was and jumped out to go talk to the teen. Meanwhile, I called the cops as I watched. My daughter approached the girl cautiously and tried to coax her off the tracks. The girl appeared kind of out of it. She wouldn't move. She finally spoke and my daughter later told me she said she and her friends had put coins to be flattened on the tracks earlier that day and that she and her friend were now looking for theirs. My daughter pointed out there was no friend nearby, the girl said the other kid left. My daughter kept trying to get this girl OFF those tracks, told her you can get flattened coins in SF at any Souvenir store. The girl would not leave. By now people were yelling from cars at the Eastbound light there at the tracks, screaming for my daughter to grab this girl. When some guys started yelling from a gardening truck and made like they were going to exit their vehicle, that finally got through to this kid and she began moving. She crossed Alma with my daughter following until she was safely on her way and a few blocks down. She later said she would have grabbed the girl if a train was coming. Interestingly I noticed the entire time my daughter made contact with this kid, her head was swivelling around making sure no train was coming. This kid? Not once!

Warning to parents: the kid mentioned she saw people doing this on TV. The coin/train track thing. Coincidentally I had just happened to catch a 'Girls Next Door' that very weekend, and in that episode, Hefners girlfriends did the same thing. Put coins on the tracks then jumped about like idiots screaming their joy when the train ran them over; then showing the camera the flattened coins. I called E! Entertainment to try to talk to someone about the irresponsibility of airing this episode depicting this activity as fun and exciting without even posting a warning. Found out that Comcast owns the show, but met dead ends everywhere. If your kids watch the show (or you even think they may), and this one aired Sat. or Sun. afternoon, they may also think this is a great idea to try. It airs frequently in marathons so it WILL be on again. Let your kids know that not only is it dangerous to place objects on the tracks, but its also illegal!

Posted by so sad, a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I don't know why people who saw her didn't try to talk to her more about this. Its sounds like it was pretty obvious she was being beaten. I knew her awhile ago if anyone would have told me she was showing up to work with black eyes I would have dropped everything and had her stay with me awhile. It sounds like everyone just ignored the fact she had stitches on her face.

Someone told me they saw her Saturday and she had admitted her boyfriend had beaten her badly that day. I am going to talk to him and see if he will talk to the police.

Posted by Longtime Friend, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I think that police need to question her boyfriend who frequents downtown.

Posted by lisa, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"In the days, weeks and months prior to her death in front of a train Monday morning, Heather Russell had been systematically and brutally beaten, friends and colleagues said."
What kind of friends allow someone to be beaten?

Posted by Anne Russell, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I am Heather Russell's aunt. I'm the one she lived with for a year in Palo Alto when she first came to the area. I am so heartbroken over this. Thank you all for your love for her, for all you did to listen and try to help.

I am in New Mexico now. We had been out of touch for some time and we just did not know.

Please remember her with compassion and love. She needed more than any of us. And if you are in the area, please leave flowers, a card, anything to mark her passing. That would mean a lot to me and to all her family.

We love you Heather, and we will always miss you.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Walter, Heather was an adult. The only person allowing her to be beaten is, unfortunately, Heather herself. Unless her friends actually witnessed a beating, or Heather reported it herself to a mandated reporter, there isn't much that family, friends or the police can do. Unless there are multiple police reports made of domestic abuse with this person being named in each one of them. Then the DA can step up and press charges even without Victim cooperation. (and the Santa Clara County DA's office is very, VERY good about that). Still, diffiuclt to prosecute when the Victim won't testify or coooperate, and often, they won't. There is very little that other people can do if a person doesn't want help. It sounds like her friends and family reached out, but Heather was silent. Battered women often go silent when they aren't ready yet to leave their abuser either out of fright or just they aren't ready for a myriad of reasons.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I forgot to add, please if you know a friend is being abused keep letting that friend know you are there for them. That you know what is going on and that you will stick by them, including accompanying them to court and taking them to counseling. DON'T JUDGE. Just let them know you are aware of what is happening, and LISTEN. In the past, the Battered Women's network also provided a support person to help with restraining orders and accompaniment to court. Perhaps they still do.

Posted by Jim, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I think putting anything on the train tracks, even coins, is a felony offense. I read that someplace. Also, it's dangerous, because the coins can squirt out to the side at high velocity. Don't ask me how I know that.

Posted by To Walter, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm

It's such a difficult issue, because friends taking action can make it worse for the survivor and it can quickly spiral out of control. There are no easy answers or simple path to taking the right action. It's so difficult, so frustrating not being able to do much for someone being abused.

Posted by sigh., a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I know you can't make someone leave and abuser but it sounds like nobody even questioned her bruises or offered her help and that is upsetting me so much.

Posted by D, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 5:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by so sad, a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Ned, a resident of Downtown North
on May 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm

D, according to the article, she sat herself down on the tracks.

Sadly, if no one actually witness any type of physical abuse, there really isn't much the DA office can do if the victim does not report it.

Posted by esme, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Thanks to all who provided me contact info- I talked to the San Mateo sheriff today and provided more information from when I last saw her on Saturday. He was very appreciative because every little bit helps.

Posted by A Nony Mouse, a resident of Egan Middle School (Los Altos)
on May 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm

I was a friend of Heathers and she really did get the stitches from falling at a party. Other then the boyfriend, Heather had a good set of friends around her and all can rest assured that there is a group of us who are making sure that the truth is found and no stone is left unturned as to the exact happenings of those 4 days. I saw her a night or two after the fall at the party and she was happy as per usual. I'm really going to miss her!

Posted by Questions, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I think YSK is incorrect about mandated reporters. I think mandated reporters are only for minors? The domestic violence laws have evolved, and if cops come out to a call & someone is injured, it's an arrest, I think a felony arrest (although perhaps the charges will be lowered, depending). If someone witnesses the violence, it's precarious, as they may not be sure they should report it, for a number of reasons. Maybe I should look the up the codes online & review them.

Posted by friend, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm

I knew Heather in high school, she was always smiling and kind to everyone around her. My heart goes out to her family and friends. This is really a tragedy and hopefully it will remind all of us that we have a responsibility to take care of those around us. If your friend is having problems, IT IS your responsibility to help them. Sometimes people can't help themselves for whatever reason.

Posted by mad, a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2009 at 7:52 pm

so her stitches were from a fall but i know for a fact he has hit her. I had no idea they were dating or I would have came and saw her. My friend who saw her on Saturday said she said that her boyfriend beat her and stole her phone. dont defend him you were her friend for what a few months. I used to live with her. You guys still hung out with this guy after he hit her and that is NOT ok.

Posted by questioning, a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Why didn't the management of her place of employment do more? Do they not care that their employees are being beaten this badly?

Posted by Questions, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 8:29 pm

When it comes to dealing w/adults who're being abused, unless it's elder abuse, there's not a lot people can do. Many fear to make it worse for the survivor, and respecting their choice to be in the relationship.

I ended 2 friendships with people I deemed being abused. Interestingly, both were male. One was a SM-type relationship, but some of what happened crossed the line of what I wanted to hear/know about and imo, it wasn't good for him. The other friend was a cop and still is.

Posted by train neighbor, a resident of Ventura
on May 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

How very sad for our community to lose 2 in 2 days!

Please reach out to family and friends with unconditional love.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2009 at 9:43 pm

It sounds to ME from the article that her coworkers and friends cared a lot, and did address the subject.

All these comments from people thinking that people can do more just illustrates that for all the attention Domestic Violence receives, apparently it is not enough. I think it's an issue that needs to be visited and revisited often.

If your friend can't help themselves, then YOU pick up the phone and call a hotline, or go on Google and find a site that can help. Pass it on to your friend, or at least learn for yourself how to approach a friend in this situation in such a way that is non threatening, non judgmental and that allows her/him to know you are there for them if they need you.

If you witness something in public, call it in on the spot. Yes it can make it worse on the victim, but half the time it can also start breaking the chains holding this victim to the abuser, because it's no longer a secret.

I just find it heartbreaking that two days in a row we had two very sad people who saw no other way out.

Posted by Evan Kennedy, a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2009 at 11:09 pm

I just want everyone to know, friends, concerned citizens and people who care that I, along with friends of Heather will be organizing a memorial art show in her honour on the 5th of June.
It will be held at The Jungle, 542 High Street in Palo Alto, 6pm.
Heather's circle of friends will be putting their artistic pieces up for auction, and the proceeds will be donated to a battered women's shelter.
All are invited, come remember our friend with us.

Posted by Charles, a resident of Walter Hays School
on May 7, 2009 at 12:39 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 7, 2009 at 2:39 am


Suicide often brings out feelings of anger--and I think that's what's going on with you. But I think you'd better off trying to find a sense of compassion.

The reality is that we don't forget people who die--particularly someone that young and who died so tragically. I suspect people are already blaming themselves enough without your help.

Posted by gail, a resident of Barron Park
on May 7, 2009 at 9:19 am

Evan...thank you for putting together a memorial for Heather! She was a friends to many and will not be forgotten.
Heather...hugs to you sweetie and i hope ur at peace...u r a true Angel! and up there with our Chedda! RIP
I hope this tragic incident will make "others" think!!

Posted by a Gator, a resident of another community
on May 7, 2009 at 10:43 am

My prayers and condolences go out to the entire Russell family. I have been the computer teacher at their school for some time and know the youngest siblings.

Posted by Concerned Paly Parent, a resident of Green Acres
on May 7, 2009 at 10:54 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2009 at 11:31 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Friend, a resident of University South
on May 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm

At Borders, Heather was an outstanding supervisor and a caring happy person.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Mountain View
on May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm

where is a good place to leave flowers. I left some by the area I think she died but I think that is to scary for most people to leave flowers

is there a spot where people are leaving them?

Posted by Samantha, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I just saw heather a few days ago. We would always sit together and smoke and talk about the randomest topics...she was always smiling and so positive and you dont find alot of those people in downtown. I just i cant believe it. i know there is something else there has to be.
i hope her family is well and i send my regards.

Posted by Samantha, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 5:53 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by A good friend, a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm

I will always remember many long night talks, walks, laughs I have had with heather. We went through tough break ups together, we helped each other heal. I miss her already, she was always someone I didn't need a reason to call. She would get excited over the smallest things and I took her to my family gatherings. One day she didn't have much money but she spent it on an expensive outfit at chicos to look nice visiting my family. She had so much love for her own family. I'd always thought she would grow old and be crafty and creative just like she always said her grandma was. She would talk about the love she had for her sisters, brothers, grandma and parents endlessly. I would go out in the cold just to talk with her when she had a ciggerette. I have known her for six years and she was a strong character, charming, beautiful vivacious lion. She loved horoscopes.
I want to get a ceremony going for her, can someone help me plan one, so everyone can have a place to put her flowers and we could all talk about the memories we all had. She know what I would say if she had told me about her boyfriend. I wish she knew how special she was to all of us.

Posted by Greg, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 7, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Heather was possibly one of the nicest people i knew, we had a two hour conversation about top ramin outside of rasputins. she shall be missed.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Charles, a resident of Walter Hays School
on May 7, 2009 at 11:47 pm


I do have compassion, that is why I posted. I wanted to be a wake up call. Don't just remember someone and have a memorial. Do somethiing extra special in LIVING your life. Leaving flowers and writing memorials, etc., is all very good, but if you don't take action in your LIFE, things will go back to how they were before. My harsh words were actually trying to appeal to someone else who may be doing drugs or being depressed, to turn their life around and not be prey to sociopaths, like the person that somehow pushed Heather Russell over the edge, but, to be honest, drugs and drink can ruin your life. My heart breaks too about the suicides, but in society we are doing something wrong that this is happening, we aren't focusing on what's important. It is called the rat race, to achieve too much and excel in life. What about just being yourself and be happy with that?

Posted by Evan Kennedy, a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

I know what you mean Charles, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I hadn't said or done more to help Heather in her situation, but the best I can do at this point is donate to a charity that can help others in the same situation.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2009 at 11:37 am

Thank you Paonline for deleting my response to that other comment :)

As someone who is going through hell right now myself, teetering at the edge of the precipice, my wish is for a place where people can go for free to help and support one another. I am sure I am not the only person in this position, and this last weeks event lends proof to my belief. I would try to organize something myself, but quite honestly I am too tired and beaten down at the moment...anyone else up to it? Maybe a retired, bored therapist would like something to do...meetings at a park or somewhere else free?

Posted by a good friend, a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2009 at 12:10 pm

I think the memorial art thing at jungle is a great idea, but I think we should organize a memorial ceromony for her and her friends like myself as well as the art thing. I think the memorial art thing is important, but I think we should also have one that is also dedicated to her life overall, not just towards her domestic violence part of it. Anyone feel the same way?

Posted by A Mom, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I've known Heather most of her life but I haven't seen her since she graduated high school. From everything her friends have said about her it sounds like she was the same as an adult as she was as a child. She was bubbly and happy and kind. She used to babysit my daughters when they were little. I used to think she did her homework while she was there, which was fine with me, then I found out her backpack was filled, not with school books, but with things for my daughters to have fun with. She was the best babysitter we ever had, they loved her. I'll never forget the evening we walked into the house and it smelled so awful. The girls had wanted popcorn so she followed the directions on the package and cooked it for 5 minutes. That was way too long. She was so embarrassed but I just laughed. To this day when ever anyone burns popcorn I think of Heather. I love you and I miss you. I know the popcorn in heaven will always be light and fluffy.

Posted by Changed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Charles: As someone who has had dark moments and suicidal thoughts at times, knowing Heather and having to live through this has changed my entire outlook.

I wish I could have changed hers, but since that's not possible, the best I can do is realize how devastating this is to both people who were close to her and people who only vaguely knew her. You don't realize how many people are affected by your existence every day, and how painful it is to leave such a gaping hole in everyone's life along with so many questions and so much second-guessing.

Posted by To YSK, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm

The Unitarian Church in Palo Alto has a lot of free and low cost events, goings-on and meetings. There is a group that meets a couple times a month, a support group to get through this recession. This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but perhaps it's a start if you don't have the energy to organize something yourself: Web Link

It's a great community and they're very supportive to visitors and people wanting more community.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2009 at 4:43 pm


When I was younger, I didn't see the point of funerals and memorials. Dead was dead and memorials didn't change a thing.

Then my mother said to me, "You don't do it for the dead, you do it for the living." When she died, I saw how very right she was. That she was remembered and loved by others got me through some hard times.

You're dismissive of something that is, actually, quite important. You're making a judgment that I think is a little strong.


Just from what I've picked up here, it sounds like you've been through a lot lately. Keep reaching out, the help you need will come.

Posted by Charles, a resident of Walter Hays School
on May 8, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Hi changed:

Your comments are touching! You get the big picture. I "get" what you are saying. You are right in everything you say.

Posted by Charles, a resident of Walter Hays School
on May 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Ohlone Par and YSK, maybe this is not the forum to be harsh, on my part, and all I wanted to do was make an "objective" point. I hope YSK you are okay, and that no one wants to make you feel bad. Doh, be well.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2009 at 11:30 pm


It's not that your points lack validity, I think things are a bit raw right now, that's all.

Be well yourself.

Posted by Charles, a resident of Walter Hays School
on May 9, 2009 at 12:19 am

OhlonePar, thanks.

It is not about me, but I was once there in that situation, I am a girl, not a guy, and the reason I posted is because I have been there. Not abused in the physical sense, but in a situation where it has been really bad, very very bad, and I got through it. I just know that hormones and everything really play a part in all of this. If you can get through it, it gets better later down the line. I see the 17 year old who also committed suicide. I wonder that maybe it was just a strong emotion that took him there...anyway, we are all special people, just remember that anyone who is reading this. Sometimes life doesn't deliver, it is up to us all to be there for each other. You are each special. Heather was, I know was, I didn't know her. We are all in this same boat. Yes this is very raw, that is why it hit a chord for me.

Posted by molly j, a resident of Monroe Park
on May 9, 2009 at 1:09 am

i used to see heather with friends in Palo Alto and we would always stop and talk with her whenever we'd walk through San Antonio shopping center. I'd see her on the train and she was always kind.

Posted by someone, somewhere?, a resident of Monroe Park
on May 9, 2009 at 2:29 am

I also used to see Heather downtown. She was a very kind person, and it makes me really sad that she felt the need to do this.. although I didn't know her very well, it.. well, it just makes me sad. A lot of my close friends were close to her, and the downtown crew is sort of a little family. So when one of ours is hurting, it hurts us all.

Rest in peace, girly. Hope wherever you are now is better than this place.

Posted by grr, a resident of Mountain View
on May 9, 2009 at 11:16 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by clieu, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I went to high school with Heather, I remember her cheery smile, and silly things -- her braces, her perm (haha, weren't we all so dorky then?), and just that she had light and laughter with her. I hope she is resting peacefully, and that this man is held accountable in every possibly way.

Posted by gunita, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm

i still miss her so much
she and i talked a lot
she confided so much in me
the last night i saw her, 3 days before this happened, she had the most desperate look in her eyes. i'll never forget how desperate she looked. =(

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,959 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 2,124 views

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,283 views

Sometimes "I'm Sorry" Doesn't Cut It
By Cheryl Bac | 7 comments | 1,197 views

SJSU Center for Steinbeck Studies to Honor Author Khaled Hosseini on Weds Sept 10
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 746 views