WAUTOMA, Wis. -- An investor who 'got caught' in the stock market crash committed suicide after losing a reported $500,000 followed by his broker's request for $200,000 collateral to back up previous loans, officials said Tuesday.
The death of retired businessman Vernon Lamberg, 58, of Appleton, is at least the third linked to the volatile stock market.
In Miami Monday, a man who had suffered heavy losses in the crash killed his stockbroker, wounded another broker and took his own life.
Lamberg, retired president of Appleton Machine Co., was found dead Friday morning at Brock's Motel in Wautoma, located about 80 miles northwest of Milwaukee, two days after he was reported missing. A sheriff's report said he was 'very despondent over the stock market situation.'
Lamberg asphyxiated himself by breaking the line to the liquid petroleum furnace to his motel room, said Waushara County Coroner Roland Handel Sr.
'He had been dead eight to 10 hours when we found him,' Handel said. 'He had checked in a day or two earlier.'
Lamberg, described by friends as an astute businessman, lost an estimated $500,000 when the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted a record 508 points Oct. 19, the largest single drop in Wall Street history, a source told The Milwaukee Sentinel in a published report Tuesday.
'He considered himself to be an expert,' said the source, who asked that his name not be made public.
'He exposed himself to too much risk, and he got caught. He got caught in the worst market day in the history of this country,' the source said.
The source told the paper that the breaking point for Lamberg was when his broker asked for $200,000 more collateral to back up loans Lamberg had taken from the broker for future investments.
Lamberg's family members had begun to look for him in Waushara County after his wife, Jackie, received a package from him Thursday, Handel said.
'He had packed up a lot of money and mailed it to his wife and family. There were some relatives in the area looking for him' after they noted the postmark, Handel said.
Mrs. Lamberg said she was worried when Lamberg left home last Wednesday to run some errands. She said she had been with her husband of 33 years 'night and day' since Oct. 19, when he came home 'a broken man.'
'He opened his heart to my mom Monday and Tuesday,' said his son, Guy.
'Two days to say what he had wanted to say for 33 years,' Mrs. Lamberg told the Appleton Post-Crescent.
After trying to console him Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Mrs. Lamberg said the couple had decided to go to Arizona.
'I think he had his mind made up then (about taking his own life). But he was trying to throw me off the track,' Mrs. Lamberg said.
His devastation showed Tuesday, she said, when he told her what he wanted to have in his obituary. 'Keep it short and sweet. All they need to know is: I love my wife, I love my children, I love my grandchildren.'
Guy said his father, retired since 1984, didn't take his life because of the money. He did it because he felt he had failed his family, especially his wife, Guy said.
'It was a personal shame that he couldn't handle,' the son said.
A note to Mrs. Lamberg was found with the body, which a maid found casually dressed in a chair, partially covered by a blanket in the small hotel room, Handel said.
In the long handwritten note, Lamberg said he 'couldn't live with the shame,' Handel said. He added that the note made no direct references to stock market problems.
When checking into the motel, Lamberg had mentioned to an employee his concern over the stock market's plunge, Handel said.