The woman known as the “DC Madam” was found hanged in a shed at her mother’s home yesterday. Deborah Jeane Palfrey was convicted two weeks ago of running a prostitution ring that catered to the nation’s power elite, and although she threatened to reveal the names in her client book most of those names were never made public.
While this story reeks of potential conspiracy and intrigue, the New York Times reports that journalist Dan Moldea, who covered her story from the beginning, had said that Ms. Palfrey had told him she would commit suicide before she would go to prison.
Statistics say that only 13% of women who commit suicide do so by hanging – it is not the method that would appeal to women who evidently prefer pills. While it’s tempting to venture into the dark side of conspiracy here, Ms. Palfrey’s trial concluded without her ever having revealed the names of famous clients (Dick Cheney was reported to be among them in conspiracy circles), so most reporters have concluded that there were no secrets to be revealed.
Astrologer Claire France Perez reports that Ms. Palfrey was her client and has kindly posted her chart. Claire began her analysis yesterday and promises to continue in a post today (thanks to for the link). Ms. Palfrey’s chart shows that her Sun was at 28 degrees Pisces and prominently placed in her tenth house of career, suggesting a curious combination of hidden identity (Pisces) in the public eye (tenth house), the perfect metaphor for her life under the pseudonym of “Pamela Martin.” Mars in her chart was in Capricorn, sitting right on the descendant (cusp of the seventh house), which sometimes indicates a danger and violence in relationships. Mars in Capricorn, being very practical, could easily turn this tendency into a business plan which would tie in perfectly with the fantasy escort service that she ran.
That Mars in the seventh house and its tendency toward violent relationships, combined with Chiron (the wounded healer) in the eighth house of sexuality and intimacy which squares Venus (love and relating to others) suggests to me a likelihood of sexual abuse or violence early in Ms. Palfrey’s past. In addition, flamboyant Jupiter in Leo conjuncts Pluto in Palfrey’s chart, a volatile combination that often exhibits excessive righteousness and difficulty controlling one’s ego, especially when retrograde as they were in Palfrey’s chart.
reports that Palfrey left high school in Pennsylvania abruptly and finished in Florida, saying she couldn’t take the bullying anymore and was close to a nervous breakdown, although her classmates don’t recall any mistreatment of her. There are no reports of marriage or boyfriends, except for one two-month relationship that ended in a restraining order against her back in 1989 when transiting Saturn and Chiron transited her Mars/Ascendant opposition. After dating a Marine a few times she began stalking him incessantly, saying they were meant to be together.
Although Ms. Palfrey had been in trouble with the law for years, her very public troubles began when transiting Pluto made a square to Palfrey’s tenth house Sun back in 2006. At the time she was arrested, transiting Saturn was crossing over that Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in her chart, creating additional challenges as the government (Saturn) imposed restrictions and limitations on her freedom (Jupiter).
At the time of her death yesterday, transiting Saturn was “stationing” (moving extremely slowly) in a nearly exact square to Saturn in her birthchart, the second phase of a cycle which began last fall and culminated during this period between April and June. Saturn squares are extremely difficult for most people but particularly for individuals like Palfrey appeared to be, who have little impulse control and a tendency to act out their inner dramas without much introspection.
Transiting Mars, which has been traveling through Cancer since last fall, passed back and forth over Palfrey’s Mars/Descendant several times including most notably throughout the month of November. If Palfrey’s death had occurred during that time we might have inferred that foul play was involved due to the Mars factor of violence. We do see a transit of Mars preparing to conjunct Uranus in Palfrey’s chart, the planet of rebellion and change which can signify a violent event, though one more typically caused from inner distress.
When a death occurs under a Saturn transit the conclusion of suicide is more believable since Saturn can impose a sentence of depression and despair to those who have not developed an inner core of strength.
We often find Jupiter in death charts, but it is missing here. Metaphysicians teach that the soul cannot find rest after taking its own life, and the lack of a Jupiter event in the chart of Palfrey’s death suggests that there is no liberation in her suicide.
Update 5/2 4:30 pm: Early reports suggested that Palfrey was staying with her mother as she awaited sentencing, but evidently that was not the case – she was staying at a condominium that she owned. So her “suicide” at her mother’s house seems all the more suspicious. This article reports that Palfrey was moving some of her belongings into her mother’s house to prepare for prison, including boxes of her “evidence.”