NEW YORK — It was supposed to be a murder-suicide. In the end, that’s what it was.
Part of Manhattan pharma millionaire Gigi Jordan’s defense in the 2010 death of her 8-year-old autistic son was that she planned to kill herself after plying him with a deadly cocktail of painkillers, tranquilizers and sleeping pills mixed with alcohol and orange juice.
Jordan swallowed the same concoction — but she survived.
Early on Dec. 30 — more than 12 years after her son’s death, and as she faced revocation of the bail that freed her while she appealed her conviction — Jordan, 62, committed suicide in her Brooklyn home by putting a plastic bag over her head and inhaling nitrogen gas, the medical examiner’s office said.
Jordan’s death, and the legal wrangling that preceded it, revived a sensational case that had New Yorkers on edge for months.
At the heart of it was a murder that stunned the city — and a suspect who horrified it.
Prosecutors said Jordan, a millionaire pharmaceutical executive, force fed her son a deadly drug cocktail in a room at the luxury Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan in a “premeditated act of child abuse.”
But Jordan said she ended young Jude Mirra’s life on Feb. 5, 2010, because she feared that her first husband would kill her, and that her death would leave Jude condemned to a life of sexual abuse at the hands of her second husband, his biological father.
“I didn’t see any way out of this situation,” Jordan, a former nurse who made her $50 million fortune in the home health care industry, testified to a Manhattan Supreme Court jury. “I made a decision that I was going to end my life and Jude’s life.”
After hearing evidence in a nine-week trial that stretched through September, October and November 2015, the jury convicted Jordan of first-degree manslaughtersparing her a second-degree murder conviction that could have imprisoned her for life.
Months later, at her sentencing in May 2015, she echoed her same motives.
“I loved Jude more than anything in this world and I believed that he would live and die in unbelievable agony, and there’s no sadder person in this world than me over Jude’s death,” Jordan, sobbing, pleaded to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon .
“I can’t touch and smell his hair or see him smile. My only way of surviving is the hope that I can do good for other children that suffered Jude’s pain.”
But the judge wasn’t buying it. Solomon sentenced her to 18 years in prison.
“You would think in 2015, the defendant would say something like, ‘What a terrible thing I did. How could I kill my own son?'” Solomon said at the time. “But five years later (after the 2010 slaying) — the same thing. It’s hard for me to believe.”
Solomon said Jordan could have found other ways to protect the boy.
“All of her money, all of her resources. She decided to kill him,” Solomon said. “There are so many different things she could have done. She had all the money in the world to help Jude but she wound up taking his life.”
Solomon said there was “no evidence at all” of the feared abuse scenario.
There was also no evidence that Jordan ever tried or planned to follow up on her failed suicide mission, not during her 10 years in jail or during her recent taste of freedom.
But she did pursue an appeal that made its way to the federal court. A federal judge granted Jordan bail while the appeal was pending — so on Dec. 9, 2020, after she’d served more than 10 years of her sentence, Jordan was released from prison on a $250,000 bond.
The case eventually arrived at the highest court in the land.
Jordan’s appeal was based on an incident at her trial during which the courtroom was closed for about 15 minutes to hear arguments about email and a web posting “that accused the court of undermining the fairness of the trial,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office argued in papers before the US Supreme Court.
The transcript of that hearing was ultimately released, and the jury was instructed not to read or listen or observe any media coverage of the trial, Bragg’s motion noted.
Except for that jury instruction, Bragg said, the closed proceeding “did not otherwise affect any substantive matter before the jury.”
Lower courts ruled that the closed proceeding did not violate Jordan’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, Bragg noted.
Justice Sonya Sotomayor in an order on Dec. 20 continued Jordan’s bail while the Supreme Court weighed the case.
But after Bragg’s office filed papers arguing that Jordan was likely to lose her Supreme Court appeal, Sotomayor on Dec. 29 reversed herself, and issued the order that was expected to send Jordan back to prison.
Shortly after midnight on Dec. 30, Jordan killed herself — finally fulfilling what she claimed was the unfinished second step of her original plan to carry out a murder-suicide.
“It was the last thing I ever expected,” said civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, one of Jordan’s lawyers. “I didn’t see any signs of any of that. All of us were shocked. It didn’t make any sense at that point.”
Siegel said he had seen the unforgiving social media comments suggesting that Jordan had finally gotten what she deserved for killing her own child. But Siegel, who said Jordan still talked about Jude years later, said most of the public did not get to know her like he did.
“A lot of the comments didn’t take into consideration that people could change, even in jail,” Siegel said. “Gigi Jordan, at the end, was different from what happened in 2010.”
Siegel said Jordan had become passionate about the plight of incarcerated women, especially women of color.
“I thought she still had a lot to contribute,” Siegel said. “She was smart. She wrote well. I deal with the human part and try to find out what makes people tick. In the last few years, she was a different person. It didn’t make any sense.”
Siegel was especially shaken because he talked to Jordan hours before she took her own life. “She sounded in good spirits,” Siegel said. “I said, ‘I’ll talk to you soon.'”
The next morning, around 9:30 am Siegel said he got the news about Jordan’s death.
“It was jarring and incredibly sad,” Siegel said.