FBI raids home of suicide kit maker in California

Reuters News
Posted: May 26, 2011 3:09 PM
FBI raids home of suicide kit maker in California

By Mary Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Federal agents have raided the home of a 91-year-old woman who was selling do-it-yourself asphyxiation kits for $60 apiece in a mail-order business out of her San Diego-area home, an FBI spokeswoman said on Thursday.

April Langwell, the agency's spokeswoman in San Diego, confirmed FBI agents carried out a search warrant on Wednesday at the home of Sharlotte Hydorn but declined to release further details of the investigation.

Hydorn made headlines after one of her customers from Oregon, Nicholas Klonoski, 29, described by his family as suffering from depression but otherwise healthy, used one of her kits to take his own life in December.

Hydorn's product consists of a plastic hood that closes around the neck, and tubing that connects the hood to a tank of helium or other inert gas that users must supply for themselves.

Hydorn says her so-called "exit kits" are intended to help terminally ill people end their lives with dignity in their own homes, though she has acknowledged she performs no background checks and asks no questions of individuals who order the apparatus.

Notoriety surrounding Klonoski's suicide sparked a move among state legislators to outlaw sales of such devices in Oregon, one of only two states -- the other is Washington -- with laws on the books legalizing physician-assisted suicide for people with incurable, fatal illnesses.

Hydorn could not immediately be reached for comment about the raid on her home.

But a neighbor who asked not to be identified said 10 to 12 agents showed up at her house on Wednesday morning and carted away a computer and at least three boxes of material.

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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