The decade's most triggering comedy
Remember when an older Arizona man and his wife ingested fish tank cleaner in late March, triggering the man’s death? Remember when prominent critics such as Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe and Intercept columnist Mehdi Hasan, among others, blamed President Trump for the man’s death?
Now there’s more information that makes the story of the man’s death far more mysterious than previously imagined. As The Washington Free Beacon reports in a lengthy piece describing 68-year-old Gary Lenius, the Arizona man who died on March 22 from the fish tank cleaner, Lenius appears to have been anything but some loony guy who would take such a step without considering the consequences. The picture drawn from people who knew Lenius was of a highly rational man who would tolerate his wife’s angry outbursts with an enormous amount of calm.
To make matters even more murky, his wife Wanda, who brought him the concoction laced with chloroquine phosphate which they both drank, killing him and sending her into the ICU, allegedly battled emotional issues and was reported to have berated him in public and destroyed work of his that had taken him scores of hours to construct.
The Free Beacon interviewed three people who knew Gary Lenius well for their report. One friend stated, “What bothers me about this is that Gary was a very intelligent man, a retired engineer who designed systems for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa, and I really can’t see the scenario where Gary would say, ‘Yes, please, I would love to drink some of the Koi fish tank cleaner.’ It just doesn’t make any sense … I would like people to know that Gary was not the fool that some of the media stories and comments are depicting him to be. I really don’t think Gary knew what he was taking.”
Another source added, “Wanda would constantly berate Gary in public. Everyone was embarrassed for him, but he outwardly did not seem to care much. In our opinion, their marriage was seen outwardly to be as one-sided as a marriage possibly could be: Gary worshiped Wanda … (she) would routinely call him a ‘doofus’ and humiliate him in public.”
A friend alleged that Wanda’s displayed fury that manifested itself in various ways, recalling an aircraft model collection that Gary built which his wife reportedly destroyed. The friend stated, “These planes take many dozens and sometimes hundreds of hours to complete. Gary did not get angry; he simply junked the planes that were not repairable and fixed the rest. That is the Gary I knew; he would never get upset; he just accepted what happened and carried on.”
The same friend alleged that Wanda broke the laptop screen of her husband’s computer because he had updated the Windows software on her own computer. The friend asserted, “Gary just ordered up a new LCD screen from Dell and took it apart and replaced the screen himself. He knew nothing about repairing laptops, but he was a smart guy; he learned how.”
The couple were both previously divorced when they married in 2000; seven months after their marriage, the Free Beacon notes, “The Waterloo Police Department responded to a domestic incident at their home. The couple had gotten into an argument ‘concerning counseling and a possible divorce’ during which Wanda allegedly hit her husband in the chest and swung a mounted birdhouse at him, according to a court affidavit from the responding officer.” At the trial, Gary testified in support of Wanda; she was found not guilty. Judge Nathan Callahan wrote the “911 tape certainly contains sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for [Wanda Lenius’s] arrest, and the observations of the officers were consistent with a finding of probable cause for arrest of the Defendant.”
According to the Free Beacon, Wanda filed a 2012 lawsuit against John Deere, where she had worked for four years until 2005, at which point she went on disability. In the lawsuit she claimed she developed severe mental and physical problems from working there, adding that she faced “gender-based harassment” and age discrimination because she was in her 40’s. Yet in 1997 she filed a lawsuit against the Cedar Valley Medical Clinic, where she had worked, saying she faced discrimination because she was a “young, single girl.”
In the 2012 lawsuit, Wanda said in a deposition that she was “furious all the time.”
When the Beacon asked Wanda if she and her husband had a conversation about taking the chloroquine when she grabbed the fish tank cleaner, she responded, “No. I mean, it was really kind of a spur of the moment thing.”
A friend of Gary’s concluded, “Gary loved Wanda. He trusted her to do the right thing. I doubt that he second-guessed when she gave him the chloroquine.”
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