Multiple media outlets are reporting that "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong discovered Russell Armstrong's body hanging from an apparent suicide, but the particulars are inconsistent.
TMZ reported that Taylor Armstrong and a friend went to the Mulholland Drive home where Russell Armstrong was staying Monday evening in order to check up on him. Taylor and her estranged husband had been scheduled to meet Monday afternoon, but he was a no-show, TMZ said. Taylor called his friends looking for him, but none had heard from the 47-year old businessman.
The Real Housewife "became increasingly alarmed," TMZ said, "and began frantically texting" and calling Russell. After failing to reach him, Taylor went to the home, found the owner on the property, and watched as the owner "peered through Russell's bedroom window and saw his lifeless body hanging."
Us Weekly reports a slightly different version of events, saying that Taylor Armstrong became concerned after not hearing from her estranged husband "for several days" and went to the home with her assistant at a friend's urging. The Us Weekly report makes no mention of the property owner, who TMZ reported yesterday discovered Russell Armstrong's body and made the 911 call. The more recent TMZ report maintains that the owner made the 911 call, adding that the body was believed to have been dead for some time, and that Taylor remained at the home for several hours.
The reports, while not wildly conflcting, raise some questions. If it is true that Taylor Armstrong called Russell Armstrong's friends when she was unable to reach him herself, wouldn't she have first called the friend who had taken Russell in? If she knew the address of the residence, she could be expected to have known the phone number. But perhaps she didn't, or perhaps she was unable to reach the friend by phone.
There have been no details given about the size and layout of the home, which might help explain how or why the property owner, who was reportedly home when Taylor arrived looking for Russell, was unaware that Russell had hung himself hours prior to the discovery.
On Wednesday, TMZ published photos of Taylor Armstrong with a fairly deep cut above her eye, reporting that Taylor was believed to have suffered the injury four days prior to the discovery of Russell's body.
"Taylor's friends insist the cut above her eye was not inflicted by [Russell]," the TMZ report said. Apparently the injury occurred during a football game.
Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July after about six years of marriage, accusing Russell Armstrong of "ongoing physical and verbal abuse," the Huffington Post reported.
While the allegations of physical abuse took some of the reality show's viewers by surprise, Russell and Taylor's separation wasn't entirely unexpected. Toward the end of the show's first season, Taylor Armstrong became outspoken about her marital dissatisfactions, and questioned whether she should remain with her husband.
The Armstrongs initially appeared to be quite wealthy on the show, but later reports surfaced that Russell Armstrong was having financial difficulties the same year he married Taylor. TMZ reported that the businessman filed for bankruptcy in 2005 after losing most or all of the money he made in the dot.com boom. According to the documents, Armstrong claimed to have under $50,000 in assets.
Russell Armstrong's lawyer Ronald Richards told TMZ that his client had serious financial problems and was distraught over the breakup of his marriage. Russell had been staying with a friend, who owned the property where the body was discovered, for an unspecified period of time.
"I feel bad because his credit cards weren't working," said Richards. "He had tremendous financial problems.
"He was also extremely bummed out about the divorce with Taylor," Richards added. "As far as a will, even if he does have a will, they don't have any assets, so I'm not sure what there would be left to leave."
Russell Armstrong's ex-wife blames the reality housewife for Russell's apparent suicide.
"I don't care for her at all. I think she's the reason for this," Barbara Frederickson, who has a son with Russell, told RadarOnline.com. "She's not who she says she is and I told him to please be careful with this woman... I warned him! She's bad news and she drove him into this.
"I think she [Taylor] drove him into financial stress and it just ruined him," Frederickson added.
Russell Armstrong did not leave behind a suicide note.