Software pioneer Ian Murdock’s mysterious death ruled as a suicide

Ian Murdock, founder of the Debian Linux operating system, died in somewhat strange circumstances on December 28 leaving behind a host of unanswered questions.

Shortly before his death, Murdock tweeted in the evening that he had been beaten up by police near his home on Green Street, San Francisco, and was threatening to kill himself.

Murdock started detailing his experience online.

“They beat the s— out of me twice, then charged me $25,000 to get out of jail for battery against THEM,” he tweeted. “I’m committing suicide tonight.. do not intervene as I have many stories to tell and do not want them to die with me.”

Fearing he was going to take his own life, many of his friends had called the San Francisco Police Department and asked officers to check on him.

When an officer responded to Murdock’s home, the software engineer was already dead. The police who had broken the door found Murdock naked and lifeless with electrical cord around his neck. He was confirmed dead at 7.40 p.m.

Murdock’s body was covered in bruises at the time of his death, according to the autopsy report, which raised questions about conspiracy. However, the autopsy report is out and it does look like he did commit suicide. The report notes there was no evidence of illegal or prescription drug use, but there were several empty wine bottles scattered throughout the house.

Commenting on the bruises, investigating officers, Adam Hellman and Kendall Fudim at the San Francisco said that there were “no obvious signs of external trauma or foul play.”

Two days earlier, on December 26 at 11.30pm, Murdock was arrested for trying to break into his neighbour’s home while drunk. When cops showed up, he had a scuffle with the cops for which he was ticketed for resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. He was taken to hospital after banging his head on the metal cage of the police car he was being held in.

He again went back to the neighbour’s home to bang on the door again after leaving the hospital. This time the cops took him to the county jail to sober him up and calm down. However, later that day, he was released on a $25,000 bond. And then, the following evening, he killed himself.

Murdock had been going through a difficult time — he recently broke up with his girlfriend and was facing eviction from his home at the end of the month. The Linux pioneer was a heavy drinker who got out of control from time to time.” He had “psychological issues for about 20 years,” Murdock’s sister told officials.

Dr Amy Hart, assistant medical examiner while signing off the autopsy report, said the death was suicide by hanging, noting that Murdock suffered from “alcohol abuse with withdrawal seizures and Asperger’s syndrome”.

At the time of death, Murdock was working for Docker in San Francisco, having previously worked as Chief Technology Officer of the Linux Foundation, a senior leader at Sun Microsystems, and an executive at Salesforce.