The Withlacoochee State Forest in Florida has been described as one of the “10 Coolest Places in North America.”
The World Wildlife Fund bestowed the honor on the sprawling park 40 miles north of Tampa because of its great biodiversity. It has dense woodlands filled with oak, maple, lodge pine, slash pine, cypress, gum, hickory and other trees.
It was off Trail Nine, in the northeast part of the sprawling Withlacoochee — an Indian word meaning “crooked river” — where last Tuesday afternoon, former Denver developer Zack Davidson took his life.
Davidson, the developer of the luxury Landmark condominium development in Greenwood Village that ended in a high-profile bankruptcy, was facing 20 felony counts in Arapahoe County for theft, forgery and embezzlement of public property for a portion of the Landmark development east of Interstate 25 near East Belleview Avenue that never got off the ground, when he hanged himself from one of the trees off a dirt road so narrow that only one car at a time can travel it.
The Hernando Count Sheriff found him there after some people walking in the area reported finding him, said Denise Moloney, spokeswoman for sheriff’s office.
“It was around 2:30 p.m.,” she said. “It was not long after he committed suicide.”
She said she doesn’t know how Davidson got there, if a suicide note was found, or if there would be a toxicology report to see if the 45-year-old developer had drugs or alcohol in his system.
One forest service official in Florida said he had never heard of a someone killing hanging himself in the forest. “It is sad and tragic,” he said, using the same words that many in Denver have used to describe Davidson’s death. Another forest service manager, however, said he believes people have hanged themselves in the Withlacoochee State Forest before. “Just because this is the first during my tenure, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before. We find people here who kill themselves in all sorts of ways.”
When Davidson was indicated by an Arapahoe County grand jury on Dec. 27 on the charges, which amounted to about $3.1 million of $31 million in a special district bond financing allocated for the so-called European Village, south of the Landmark and Marin Towers, one court documents said Davidson is possibly bipolar. Days before he killed himself, Davidson had reportedly tried to buy a gun in South Carolina, but a background check revealed a bench warrant for his arrest stemming from the indictment.
“The case is ongoing,” Moloney said. “It is still open.”
She said one question they do not have an answer to is why Davidson picked that spot to end his life.
“We have not established any connection to why he was here and in Hernando County,” Moloney said. “We do not why he came here, unless he just happened to be driving through.
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