June 4th-Natalie’s Birthday

Natalie as a Young Lady

Happy Birthday Natalie wherever you are.

Today is June 4th, 2010.  Today would have been my sister Natalie’s 40th Birthday.   I miss my sister.

This is just a copy of the letter I wrote to the Press Enterprise after they published a story about my sister Natalie being found dead in her cell last Valentines Day


I just wanted to express my appreciation for you taking the time to listen to me vent about the loss of my sister Natalie Ann Amador on Valentine’s Day. Not only did you take the time when I did reach you, you made an effort to get back to me when I didn’t; which is very much appreciated during this difficult and incredibly sad period for our family. Obviously, when someone loses a loved one unexpectedly, THE NUMBER ONE priority is figuring out what happened. In the absence of satisfactory explanations, I’m sure that many people can easily become overbearing, demanding, quick-to-point-fingers, assign blame, and not give a second thought as to the time burdens they are placing upon strangers whom they feel can provide said explanations.

As a reporter for a large metropolitan newspaper, you must be very busy and to be honest, although for us this is a new and horrible addition to our lives, for you it must be somewhat of a familiar, everyday tale of tragedy and a reinforcement of the common sense knowledge you possess regarding the inevitable, ultimate consequence of lifestyles focused on, and ruined by: drugs, alcohol and crime.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that its really cool that your exposure to the ugly side of humanity has not left you jaded to the point that you don’t continue to take the time to respect a sad person’s need to vent and need for someone to listen.

I did a Google search for information regarding suicides while in custody, and the prevalence of available stories hammered home for me the point that my family certainly does not hold the patent on grief, anger, shock or disbelief. In my view that alone is pretty tragic.

Whether my sister chose to end her own life or not, in my opinion the County of Riverside had a legal obligation to ensure that she did not, in fact, follow through SUCCESSFULLY with that choice. She had obviously reached a point in her soul where she mistakenly thought that suicide was the best option. She was under a great deal of stress, facing an almost certain jail sentence, and was armed with the deluded belief that she had let everyone who loved her down. Combine that with a prolonged lack of sleep, the involuntary “cold turkey” withdrawal from a number of toxic substances, and a growing sense of hopelessness regarding her chances of being released prior to facing a judge and answering for her offenses, and it’s much easier to empathize with her misguided choice to take her own life.

I’m sure that many relatives of suicide victims, in rather trite attempts to make themselves feel better, go on an on about HOW WELL they knew their loved ones and how they just KNOW that they would never have taken their own life voluntarily etc etc. I guess I am the exception to that group. If you knew me and what sorts of insanity I have undertaken and survived in my life the next statement I am going to make wouldn’t even be doubted for second. Suffice to say, that for most of my life, my sister Natalie was the good kid and I was the proverbial black sheep, the one all my family was in an almost constant state of anxious dread over. So please BELIEVE ME; I’m telling you, I hung out with my sister a lot, especially the last year or so since I moved back from five years living in Australia and New Zealand, and I really, truly, did implicitly understand and was aware of the vast majority of the issues she faced in her everyday life. I could so easily relate with and probably top most of her dramas.

Without doubt she did have some major issues that needed immediate attention. That’s a given. However, that being said, I KNOW IN MY MIND, HEART, BODY AND SOUL THAT she would NEVER, during the normal course of life, agree with the notion that her life was not worth living; problems, issues, emergencies not withstanding. She was very matter of fact about everything going on in her life. She was not in denial over the glaring deficiencies that existed in key areas of her life. She understood that changes had to be made. She was taking steps, albeit small ones, towards extricating herself from the rather fruitless path she found herself on when she was taken into custody. Small, yet meaningful things like preparing the forms necessary to expunge her prior conviction for possession so that she could get back into her career as a Radiologist.

Unfortunately for Natalie, she never got the chance to pull herself out of what would be apparent to most outsiders as a downward spiral towards oblivion. My family has a significant amount of responsibility for failing to intervene in a more tangible way then being angry with her for her shortcomings and repeated mistakes. She never got the chance to make amends, but I know that she would have. She was kind, generous to a fault, had a positive attitude and took joy in life under extremely trying circumstances. Unselfish to an insane degree in my opinion. Sadly, I’ll start with myself when saying that I and many others did not reciprocate with Natalie. She took care of me so much its sick and I’m the one that has the MBA, the cushy job here at TapouT etc etc. That’s so wrong but I was just used to Natalie being that way and I took it for granted and I never in a million years, even dreamed that she would actually DIE. Jail, yeah, I definitely thought that was a strong possibility. But death? And self inflicted? NATALIE? NO fucking way!

So I’m sad, I’m lashing out, I’m venting. I’m angry that the Sheriff’s Department let something so straight out of a horror movie take place while my sister, who I loved dearly, was in their care. It just really makes me so mad because it was preventable, easily preventable in fact, and should never have happened. I want to make sure it never happens again. Natalie and everyone who knew and loved Natalie have a multitude of unresolved issues, that will now, remain unresolved for eternity and that is wrong on every level. If the County of Riverside cannot take reasonable care of their wards, then ostensibly they should not be holding onto them. Death by suicide is not a long term, feasible solution for the chronic jail overcrowding problems faced by the State of California in my opinion.

Thanks for listening yet again Alicia.

Natalie Mandich and Anthony Mandich


  1. That was lovely. Again I am so sorry for your loss… It’s sad to read of the short commings Riverside County faced a few years ago and I regret is probably worse today. I lost my job as a Youth and Family counselor for San Diego County’s probation project called Breaking Cycles due to cut backs last December and I can tell you MOST officers if they’re worth their salt, care about their clients and to lose someone to a misdiagnosis or sheer carelessness usually hits them hard. I do not know your experience nor anyone involved. I am not niave enough to say that ther aren’t A-holes but I believe that your sister’s death impacted most of the employees there. It’s sounds like a tragedy all around but they are human. If there was blatant carelessness, I hope they were repremanded but I believe in karma and if there were foul souls there, they will get return. I was blessed for three years giving time and attention to youth and their families in crisis. It was a unique and wonderful experience that is all but gone now. Recovery is no easy task and there’s no quick fix. The prison system is struggling and I fear more cut backs are still comming. It breaks my heart because most folks in custody are simply in need of treatment primarily mental health and substance abuse, some short term, others for life but to give them a diagnosis is the hope for change. If we had more programs and therapists working in the system, we could turn a lot of lives around and save the community lots of money and unneccissary stress but there is not quick fix there either. Thank you for your story. Ghandi has a quote that has been a part of my life’s efforts, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” … I try to be an active participant!



    1. Wow I centainly did not expect a reply like that Melody! I am impressed and in awe a little bit actually. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to write that, I really appreciate it. It gave me goosebumps.



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