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Martin Manley was a sports statistician and former news reporter who committed suicide on his 60th birthday at the Overland Park Police Department in Kansas on August 15th, 2013. Shortly before his death, Manley launched the website MartinManleyLifeAndDeath.com in an attempt to explain his reasons behind taking his own life. In addition to the suicide note, the website listed a pair of GPS coordinates that many believed would lead to a hidden stash of gold coins that Manley had saved up in his lifetime, valued at more than $200,000.
The domain name MartinManleyLifeAndDeath.com was registered on May 22nd, 2013, but the website did not go live until August 15th, 2013. In one of the webpages titled “Suicide Preface,” Manley wrote that he was making a conscious choice to die on his terms, not because he was sick, depressed, or in legal or financial trouble, claiming that he had more than $20,000 worth of gold and silver coins. Manley’s suicide note was split into two essays; the first one, dated January 1st, 2012, chronicles his journey to suicide through a discourse between his two online alter egos, Len Tinman the “good guy” and the confrontational Al Marley, about preserving his life’s history on the Internet before death. The page also contains a link to a “how-to” page in which Manley explained the details of his plan leading up to the day of his death, including various methods of suicide that he had considered and instructions for police officers not to contact his family until they contact the station first. He also stated his wish for his organs to be harvested for donation.
In the middle of this section, he included a set of coordinates and a photo (shown below left) of the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens with no explanation.
The second half of the website contained 32 memoir entries about his life, chronicling his life from birth through adulthood. He wrote about his family, wives, hobbies and interests. He also linked to his short fiction, poetry and musical recordings.
On the morning of August 16th, a link to Manley’s site was posted to the /r/WTF subreddit, where it gained more than 16,600 upvotes, 2,500 points overall and 4,100 comments within 12 hours. Within the comments, people began to point out the coordinates in the section about his gold, as a handful of Redditors began to travel to the area to see what was going on. According to I_CAPE_RUNTS, police and media began arriving at the scene first after the website was mentioned on local Kansas City radio stations. Other Redditors, including Casparilla, confirmed these reports by sharing photos taken at the park (shown below). However, Manley informed his family via letters that were sent via overnight mail that these coordinates were a hoax and he had given his coins away. These notes also instructed them to call the police at a specific time to give them this information.
News Media Coverage
On August 16th, news of Manley’s suicide and the corresponding website hit a number of news blogs and sites including The Kernel, Jim Romenesko’s blog, the Inquisitr, the Kansas City Star, The Blemish, MetaFilter, the Daily Dot and Gawker.
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