But they watch TV too:
Thomas Hickman drove through New Mexico, police say, until his Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo ran out of gas. Then the 55-year-old North Richland Hills man walked into a field, tied helium balloons to a gun, covered his mouth with duct tape, and shot himself in the back of the head, according to New Mexico State Police.
That determination is a far leap from what authorities first suspected when Mr. Hickman's body was discovered March 15 near Santa Rosa, N.M., about 100 miles east of Albuquerque. Authorities initially thought the Red Lobster executive had been kidnapped and slain.
But investigators came to the conclusion that Mr. Hickman committed suicide. The first clue was the bundle of white helium balloons, with the gun still attached, found snagged on bushes and cactus near Mr. Hickman's body.
The grip of the Smith & Wesson Airweight had been removed and the trigger guard ground down, said Lt. Rick Anglada of New Mexico State Police.
"He took as much weight off as he could to make it light as possible," Lt. Anglada said. The plan apparently was to have the gun float far away after being fired, but that didn't happen.
The gun and balloons led police from that field back to Mr. Hickman's house in North Richland Hills.
"This was apparently an elaborate attempt to make it look like he was murdered," Lt. Anglada said. "Investigators were able to show that he purchased the balloons and purchased the gun. We also found shavings from the gun in his garage."
Partway through the investigation, one of the investigators recalled seeing a television show in which balloons were used in a suicide.
The investigator obtained a copy of an October 2003 episode of the television drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and noticed that there were several similarities between that show and Mr. Hickman's case. But Lt. Anglada said New Mexico authorities are not sure if Mr. Hickman ever saw the program.
Detectives would not speculate about the motive for his suicide, the lieutenant said.
...As the West Texas director of operations for Red Lobster, Mr. Hickman regularly traveled through the region where he died. He was last seen at a meeting in Abilene on March 13. The next day, he missed a meeting in Lubbock. On March 15, two motorists discovered his body in the field.