Mystery Surrounds Gotbaum Airport Death

Categories: Follow-Up

A bizarre and mysterious tragedy struck the family of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum this weekend as her step daughter-in-law was found dead in a holding cell at a Phoenix airport. Carol Gotbaum, a 45-year-old mother of three was found unconscious, her handcuffed hands near her throat, in a holding cell in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Friday night. Police say she strangled herself trying to escape the handcuffs.

According to the Daily News, Carol Gotbaum yelled "I'm not a terrorist. I'm a sick mom. I need help," after she missed a 2:58 pm U.S. Airways express flight to Tuscon.

Phoenix Police Department spokesman Andy Hill told CNN:

We did receive a call that she was very loud – yelling and screaming, running around the concourse area. Two officers responded to that location. They contacted Ms. Gotbaum. They could not calm her down. There was probable cause to arrest her for disorderly conduct by disturbing the peace, which they did. It was very difficult for them to get her handcuffed, but they did not have to pepper-spray or Tase her or anything else.

Hill said Gotbaum had been alone for only five or 10 minutes when officers checked on her and found her unconscious. Gotbaum's husband, Noah, is the son of Victor Gotbaum, who led DC37, the city's largest municipal union, for three decades. Public Advocate Gotbaum is a possible candidate for mayor in the 2009 election.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner is expected to release a full report on Gotbaum's death sometime this week. That will be an interesting document.

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