He read the message police said Dr. Thomas Hess took from Erica Blasberg’s side and hid in his car after finding her dead in her home.
“I understand why Hess would remove that note,” Mel Blasberg said.
Hess, a 43-year-old Las Vegas family doctor, turned himself into authorities Tuesday afternoon and was booked at the Henderson (Nev.) Detention Center. Less than an hour later, he was released on bail.
Though police ruled out foul play in the findings released Tuesday, Hess was sought by police for removing the suicide note and prescription medications from the scene. Police said Hess “hid” them in his car.
After reading the suicide note, after listening to investigators detail their findings Tuesday in a 90-minute meeting at the Henderson Police Department, Blasberg knows more about his daughter’s state of mind, but he believes only Hess knows what really “triggered” the suicide almost four months ago.
“The note was a story that surrounded her death, but it wasn’t about her death,” Blasberg said by telephone shortly after leaving the meeting with police. “Where some questions were answered, the questions I need answering can only come from Hess.
“There is a reason why Erica’s state of mind got to a point – in her last 12, 13 or 14 hours – why it got to a point to where we are all talking about her. Prior to that time, she was fine. Everything has something to do with this guy Hess, which triggered something in her.”
Erica, 25, a promising golf professional when she first hit the LPGA, was found dead on May 9 at her home in Henderson.
According to Nevada’s Clark County coroner’s office, Blasberg’s suicide was caused by asphyxia and toxic levels of prescription medication. Police said she was found with a plastic bag over her head.
“All along, my opinion’s been that Erica didn’t have to die,” Blasberg said. “Now, with the police investigation, I feel more strongly than I ever did that Erica did not have to die.
“This Dr. Hess was with her on Saturday night [the night before she died]. I can’t go in detail. I can, but I will let the police do that when they arrest him. But, just a normal, reasonable person would have done a whole lot more seeing Erica in this frame of mind. Seeing her in what appeared to be, clearly, some weird state, he really didn’t react. Where he might not, under the law, be considered a person who killed her, he is partly responsible why she is not alive.”
Blasberg is also troubled that after giving an initial statement to police, Hess retained an attorney and stopped cooperating with police. Blasberg said he plans to pursue the truth in a civil suit against Hess.
Asked if he believed his daughter and Hess were romantically involved, Blasberg paused.
“There is some specific, visual evidence that shows their relationship to be affectionate, which leads me to believe it was an affair, or something that was intimate,” he said. “I don’t have all the information. Based on what I was told, I think that’s the only conclusion I can draw.”
Erica Blasberg’s golf career mirrored her life in the end, a tale of highs and lows.
Blasberg grew up in Corona, Calif., as a three-time American Junior Golf Association All-American. She was good enough to play on the boys’ team at Corona High School. Mel was a professional instructor and the only swing coach she ever knew. She went on to become a two-time All-American at the University of Arizona who was good enough to turn pro after her sophomore year.
She quickly won a Futures Tour event and advanced through LPGA Qualifying School.
Erica was going to be a star. That was the feeling back home, but it never happened.
In five LPGA seasons, Blasberg’s best finish was a tie for eighth at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in Hawaii. Her friends saw her struggle emotionally with the game. She quit halfway through the LPGA’s Qualifying School last winter and confided to friends that she wasn’t sure what she would do if she gave up golf. Those friends, though, saw a rejuvenated spirit in Blasberg before the start of this season. Her former caddie, Ray Kim, said a renewal of commitment with her father as coach sparked a comeback in her game. Blasberg Monday qualified for the Tres Marias Championship in April, made the cut and tied for 44th.
Poised to Monday qualify for the Bell Micro Championship in early May, Erica’s bags were all packed for the trip when she was found dead. She had even arranged to borrow her dear friend Irene Cho’s caddie.
Mel Blasberg said his daughter’s eagerness to get to the Bell Micro factors into the mystery of what happened that last night.
“Emotionally, I was prepared for today,” Mel said of his 90-minute meeting with Henderson police. “I was prepared to ask my questions, but, in between everything, it was impossible. I kept up a good front, but when the press wanted to talk to me after, it hit like a ton of bricks: Erica’s dead.”
Nearly four months after his daughter’s death, Blasberg remains intensely interested in his daughter’s life and what happened in the last hours of that life.