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UPDATE: Man killed by train was investigated for involvement in Atherton elder abuse case

Original post made on Apr 2, 2010

(This is an expanded version of a previously posted story.) Jon Armstrong, the pedestrian who died after being hit by a train on Friday, April 2, in San Bruno was a 52-year-old Menlo Park resident who was being investigated by the Atherton Police Department on suspicion of abusing an elderly Atherton woman.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 2, 2010, 6:31 PM

Comments (76)

Posted by Thomas
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Apr 2, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Having been the subject of a 3 year San Mateo County Sheriff's investigation for false allegations of elder abuse made against myself, I'm not surprised he killed himself. I thought about it often before the allegations against me were finally found to have no merit. Not before I exhausted my savings, lost friends and my job. It's so easy to accuse someone and then you have to prove you are innocent. They throw that ugly term of 'Elder Abuse' around way to lightly these days.

Posted by deadbanker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Well, Thomas, you don't know about the case so you are in no position to make any judgment on the case of Jon Armstrong.

I wish Jon Armstrong was under investigation instead of you. Armstrong was a Wells Fargo banker of the victim, later fired for violating every rule on the book on conflict of interest. Armstrong eventually moved in with the widow, then set up a LLC to which he transferred the victim's assets. Oh, yes, he managed to buy a Bentley and a Mercedes convertible in the meanwhile, too. I guess he felt that his own 1999 white Ford Explorer license plate 4EME073 was not very Athertonian.

The authorities finally and reluctantly blew his cover, after years of requests for an investigation. Neighbors, the judge, along with the mayor of Atherton had her admitted at a hospital when she was found on the brink of death, after being neglected by Armstrong. The reluctant Atherton Police finally began conducting an investigation on this case after it was found that Jon Buckheit is an acquaintance of the victim, and was appointed as the temporary conservator.

The next few weeks will be interesting in the city council for sure. This elder abuse case is another part of this whole mess.

Posted by thomas
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Was he convicted of a crime? You make my point perfectly. In elder abuse cases, you are guilty until proven innocent. That is not the American way. People tried to paint me as something I wasn't. When just one side of the story is heard, it's easy to pass judgment. That is why the 'Ox Bow Incident' use to be required reading in high school.

Posted by deadbanker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 2, 2010 at 9:25 pm


This article is not about you. It's about Jon Armstrong. And believe me, as an observer, he was going to get his derriere in prison for the rest of his life. It's a shame that he killed himself before justice was served.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When you read through the topic list on the Town Forum it is clear that the Town of Atherton has become a soap opera, or perhaps a tragic comedy. When are the citizens going to stir up from their fenced in houses and realize that a total reformation is necessary. We have lots of good and talented people both in the community and employed by the Town but there is no glue, no leadership, no civic pride and no true sense of community. How many more lawsuits, tragedies, fiscal disasters can the Town take?

Right now most citizens still hear an uncertain trumpet. What will it take to wake up the citizens before it is too late?

Posted by Wqke up Call
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 2, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Jon Buckheit is the "Temporary Conservator"? It seems like Mr. Buckheit is working behind the scenes to solve a lot of Atherton's problems. Peter, perhaps he can be called upon to rule the town by fiat for a period of time to get it turned around?

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 2, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I agree that people like John are essential to the reformation but the essential ingredient is still missing - an outraged and engaged citizenry, without which nothing will happen.

Posted by deadbanker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Yes, Jon Buckheit deserves our support for his effort in cleaning up this whole mess. He is playing his cards carefully, and there is a lot more to come after Marsala. McKeithen is doing a respectable job, I think. It will take a lot of time and patience to go after all the corrupt Atherton officials, current and past.

That Armstrong was bilking this poor widow was Atherton's worst kept secret for some time. Wonder why the PD didn't do anything about it? You will see it eventually.

Posted by Bambi
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 2, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I am well aware of the entire story. I know the woman and know of what he did. He was guilty and he knew he was caught. He was not wrongly accused believe me. She was saved by someone that cared and waited for the right moment to get her away from him.
It is hard to believe so many corrupt were involved in town. This will play out. You will see.
He was evil. Just know she had an angel watching all the time for just the right moment.
That angel deserves the praise for caring so much. He is gone but there are more so we all need to watch out for one another. The aging feel lonely and fall prey to the wicked.
Let this be a lesson. Someone is always going to catch you. His friends that knew should be ashamed of themselves as they protected this con man. This is a movie in the making.
Its a story you will not believe as no one has really heard the truth. Yet. But I know it.

Posted by ShameonYOU
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 2, 2010 at 11:56 pm

You people are disgusting. Jon armstrong is my uncle and you cannot imagine how this news has shocked and devasted our family today on this good friday. Jon armstrong was not a criminal or a shark as you sheep believe. He has a young daughter and moving in with this woman was the only option for them due to his recent financial struggles. He does not own a bentley or a mercedes or any sort of luxury in his life. He was a good man and it is truly a tragedy that he felt there was no toher choice for him but to take his life. do you people have no shame?!! try for one minute to put your selves in our familys position [portion removed; see terms of use]. A GOOD MAN was lost today or the grief is unbearable. RIP Jon I hope you are comfortable up there with the Lord we will meet again one day. We love you.

Posted by code blue
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 12:21 am

Mr. Carpenter you state that "most citizens still hear only an uncertain trumpet.
How about a clarion call to action from the Atherton Civic Interest Group?
or at least a statement of some kind--here or in the press or even a council meeting.
I believe that your average citizen assumes that they don't need to pay much attention because they will be notified of any real problem by an official announcement that arrives in the mail from the ACIL

Posted by deadbanker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 3, 2010 at 12:23 am

Dear ShameonYOU:

I am so sorry about the loss of your uncle. I know his daughter and it breaks my hear that she no longer has her dad whom she didn't really know well. It's true that he does not own a Bentley or a Mercedes: they are "owned" by the LLC that he set up to hide the assets that he stole from this poor elderly widow. However, if you are truly his niece, you might have seen his Mercedes convertible, and perhaps even the Bentley which were returned to the victim shortly after a protective order was placed, [portion removed].

When the victim was rescued in january, the victim was found to be on the brink of death. [portion removed]when a friend of the victim, a medical doctor, tried to call for an ambulance, your dear uncle tried to prevent the authorities from taking the victim to the hospital.

Again, i am sorry about your personal loss, but I am also sorry that his crime will not be fully revealed. I believe that he walked onto the track because he knew that he was caught, and there is no way out.

[Editor's note: The Almanac understands that this is a sensitive and explosive issue. But please avoid "convicting" Mr. Armstrong of crimes on this forum. We will do our best to verify the facts in this case. Contact us at]

Posted by thomas
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 12:37 am

I am deeply sorry for your loss. This was the point I was trying to make when I was the first to comment on this story. It's so easy for observers to sit back and judge when 'Elder Abuse' is tossed around. People can't believe it could even be alleged unless it is true. To live under that label before you have been given your day in court is like having the weight of the world upon you. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in this country. When did rational people forget that. Both sides of a story need to be heard before judgment is passed. It really is a sign of how small minded some people are that they think they are the Judge and jury. That they are so omnipotent they know whether someone is guilty before they have had a chance to defend themselves.

Posted by deadbanker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 3, 2010 at 12:42 am

And, ShameonYOU:

You've accused me of not knowing your uncle, but then, why do I know that he drove a white Ford Explorer? Go check the license plate and see if I got it right.

I am sure he was good to some people, and he had his struggles. However, that does not justify what he had done to his wife, Lilia, and his only child, in addition to what he did to this victim.

It is a strange end of a strange life. He charmed so many people playing polo at UC Davis, but the infamous Tarek Salahi, the White House party crasher also played polo at UC Davis.

Posted by james
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 12:56 am

Wow, with citizens acting as Detectives, DA's, Judges and the jury all in one, the city should save a lot of money.

Posted by bambi
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 6:21 am

Dear Shame On You

So sorry for your personal loss. I am aware of his daughter. As well his ex wife. Talk to her about your Uncle as she knows. He was a charmer for sure. I will allow you to find things out on your own. I realize it will be hard to accept. But being at the home and seeing what was taking place first hand I have nothing to say in regards to him not having a choice but to move in with this wealthy and over 80 woman and take her money? She has a daughter of her own as well. You best be open to the truth and realize that you may not have really known the man yourself. But I am sorry he took his life and of course I would expect you to be angry. Her life was saved and his was lost. He was trapped by his own doing. But I am sure you loved him and this is a tragic situation all around.

Posted by insider
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 10:20 am

I have read the elder abuse police report prepared by the Atherton Police Department.

When one compares the neglect of the Atherton Police Department in this case with the falsification of Jon Buckheit's police report and the willful violation of Mr Johns civil rights back in 2007, there will once again be a call for a police oversight committee.

The taking of Mr. Armstrong's life is a terrible tragedy. With all due respect to the memory of Mr. Armstrong, this tragedy could have been avoided, had the Atherton Police Department done its job.

Had the Atherton Police Department intervened back in 2007, much suffering could have been avoided.

Now is the time for all of Atherton to see how this could have happened to one of its own. We pay a premium to keep our community safe.

In return for our tax dollar we are rewarded with public corruption, official neglect and incompetence.

What has happened is an outrage. All of Atherton should be outraged. Now is the time to throw the bums in town hall out and to hang up a sign "under new management".

Posted by deardeadbanker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Your impeccable charachter truly shines through as you make it your personal mission to slander jon on every possible website in the midst of this tragedy, you truly are a class act. I have no doubt that you may have known Jon and his possible mistakes but in the eyes of the Lord you are no better than he is TODAY by slandering him in a public forum like a coward! Does the Lord not cask us to treat each other as if it were ourself, please keep that in mind this EASTer weekend and whatever you may have had against JOn let it GO man, life to far to short for to be trivial as my family has witnessed this weekend. From the venom and bitterness in your comments it seems you were are no more happy with Life than jon was.[Portion removed]

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2010 at 2:31 pm

This is a very sad ending. My condolences to Mr. Armstrong's friends, family and especially his young daughter.

I agree with insider, "this tragedy could have been avoided, had the Atherton Police Department done its job." Same could be said for the District Attorney's Office.

Posted by Informed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Sorry there is nothing trivial about someone doing what he did. I disagree on that issue and I realize you are upset but this was not at all trivial. Look away if this forum upsets you. Some apparently tried to help and they simply are having a hard time letting it go. Just allow the process and don't engage if you want it to stop. One can only hope the truth will come out and we should allow that to happen. No need for us to argue anymore. It is out of our hands now. We have no idea why Jon opted for this end to his life. Some say calculating and some think it was just his time. No matter we should respect those that are grieving.
If there are others involved then they are either off the hook or shaking in their boots.
Time will tell.

Posted by my agent is waiting
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm

>>>it is clear that the Town of Atherton has become a soap opera<<<

Anyone with inside knowledge of the goings-on want to help me put together a treatment? This brouhaha has mini-series potential!

Posted by bambi
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Oh I believe and have for sometime it is a movie in the making. Seeing the widow lying there not getting proper medical treatment and seeing how this was playing out and knowing what happened to help her escape was nothing less than more than a soap opera in the making it was a murder mystery that has a different ending. Believe me it is a compelling story.
Always involves those with lots of wealth. Sad but true. Money money money everyone wants it but they do not always want to work for it. If you are serious then I imagine many will be happy to help you get the story.

Posted by I Am God
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm

How dare you speak for me.

Posted by informed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Oh I am God no one has spoken for you seems you gad the last word after all.

Happy Easter

See you at sunrise

Posted by formerjournalist
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm

The Almanac is in gross violation of every known journalistic canon to be allowing people to be posting anonymous comments that would be completely libelous if Mr. Armstrong were still alive. Whatever the facts of this case may be, it is beyond inappropriate to grant a forum on a topic so sensitive to people who are unnamed and unknowable (because unlike every other newspaper website I know, the Almanac does NOT require even a disclosed-though-not-displayed email address to post).

The editors' attempt at "moderating" the posts by removing a few snippets is less than a fig leaf. C'mon, "deadbanker" and "bambi." Have the guts to put your name on your posts. I'm happy to disclose mine immediately when you do. And let's have the Almanac editor who is "moderating" this post do the same.

Posted by TV Guide
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 3, 2010 at 10:53 pm

To Michael G. Stogner:

How can you blame the Atherton police for the late Mr. Armstrong stepping in front of a train? Just another undeserved potshot at the police.

I have seen your comments about the widow's case since the beginning. You are shedding crocodile tears over Mr. Armstrong. Your condolences are not sincere.

To My agent is waiting: This is a soap opera. Give me the remote. I want to change the channel to the Town Council. I am a big fan of sitcoms.

Posted by who dunnit
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 3, 2010 at 11:37 pm

The Atherton Police is to blame in this tragedy. After a one hour telephone call with the district attorney\'s office in 2007, the Atherton Police Department concluded its investigation with a conclusion that the elder abuse charges were unfounded. What the Atherton Police Department should have done is continue its investigation into the very serious allegations that have been leveled and after having obtained probable cause to continue to investigate the matter.

What the Atherton Police Department did in this case was gross neglegence. Had the Atherton Police Department intervened promptly, it could have prevented the plundering of Ms.Wickett\'s estate and the taking of one\'s own life on good friday.

At the very same time the Atherton Police Department was looking the other way in a case of attempted murder in slow motion, the Atherton Police Department relentlessly pursued the Atherton Finance Director on false allegations of misusing government property after the Finance Director had discovered the Chief of Police spent over $2,000 in taxpayer funds attending an out-of-state conference without proper authorization.

The Atherton Police Department has blood on its hands. Heads will roll when the truth comes out, and the truth will indeed come out.

Posted by underhisnose
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 4, 2010 at 1:24 am

People can be so deceptive and evil. If this man did what people are claiming, he could not have done it on his own. How evil and shameful. Unfortunately, our elderly are being preyed upon by the scum of the earth. Greedy and money hungry dirt bags. How is the victim doing?
Was the family aware of what was happening?

Posted by Informed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 4, 2010 at 3:18 am

Yes the family was aware and doing everything possible to save the widow and was finally able to. She is doing much better today. Thanks to those that got involved.

Posted by in the know
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

No, Armstrong was not acting alone. Those who helped him have already been mentioned here.

Congratulations to the neighbors who rescued the victim, just before she was murdered slowly, with all of her assets going to Armstrong who was her banker.

Posted by Heroes
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 5, 2010 at 12:39 am

As an observer of this situation from afar, everyone should know that Kathy McKeithen and Jon Buckheit are heroes who saved this woman's life. I don't mean to get off topic, but in some of the other threads there are comments impugning both of them, and in particular attacking Ms. McKeithen's credibility. They stepped up, and saved a life, and this is a fact. I don't see anyone else in Atherton doing that, certainly not the police. The only life Charles Marsala is trying to save now is his own political one. The community and town should recognize these two heroes. Obviously Mr. Armstrong thought with Jon Buckheit as conservator, the jig was clearly up and he tragically took his own life. I'd like to see him conserving this whole town, or at least the police department.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 7:03 am

Posted by TV Guide, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2010 at 10:53 pm

To Michael G. Stogner:

How can you blame the Atherton police for the late Mr. Armstrong stepping in front of a train? Just another undeserved potshot at the police.

Dear TV Guide a person who refuses to identify self: This was an elder abuse/undue influence investigation. During this investigation a Police Lt. who had financial involvement with the victim was allowed to be part of the investigation. He determined by himself with no witness that a video of his interview would be inappropriate. The lead investigator was not with him when he conducted his interview. The APD was aware of a witness statement that Mr. Armstrong was not concerned at all about the criminal investigation because he was a friend of the Police Chief of Atherton. He made false statements to a police officer conducting an investigation, the officer knew the statements were false and did nothing about it.

Mr. Armstrong thought he was protected, and for several years it looked like he was right.
The APD and San Mateo County District Attorney's Office both determined the allegations were unfounded. What he did not count on was about 7 brave citizens doing what citizens do which is to protect their neighbors. They conducted a citizens Welfare Check on Mrs. Wickett and determined she was almost dead, they removed her on the spot to a local Hospital. They saved her life period.
That first night at the Hospital I personally thanked each one of them and I called them HEROS.

"everyone should know that Kathy McKeithen and Jon Buckheit are heroes who saved this woman's life." I agree with that statement, these were two of the people I thanked that night.

Getting back on point, I believe the APD and DA gave Mr. Armstrong false hope about getting away with a crime. Once he found himself in a Superior Court room in front of a Judge who stated' I see substantial evidence of UNDUE INFLUENCE here."

That statement was a turning point.

We have to ask the question, What did the Hon. Judge George Miram see that Steve Wagstaffe and the APD not see?

We need to learn from this, Oversight and review is a good thing.

Thank you to all the HEROS

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

Mr. Stogner, are you related to the victim? I am curious about this case and would like to read up on it. I will do so this week.

I am very happy to know the Mrs. Wickett received help from neighbors.

Posted by invloved
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

The real hero has yet to be named. One neighbor/friend that was the one that called to get them all there the day Jon left the home and the widow asked for his help. That hero has asked to not be named but he is the real hero. He never gave up on assisting the widow and her daughter in escaping the situation. He waited for the one opportunity to present itself and he alone had the guts to step in. That one man has a heart of gold and could not allow her to be taken advantage of.

You gotta love a man who takes that risk.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

Involved is correct about that Hero,
In this case there are many heros, you could say there was a village of heros.

Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Pardon my intrusion on this forum, but is this the same Mrs. Wickett who had a husband, Prof. Wickett with that marvelous train on the property? He used to give us rides as teenagers and they have a daughter who is a professional pianist? The name Wickett is unusual so I was just curious since we had been to Prof and Mrs. Wickett's home on a few occasions for concerts and train rides in the mid 1980's. I am a long time Atherton resident since 1957 and if it is this same Mrs. Wickett, and someone is close to her in this forum please let her know she is well loved and hope she is doing ok now. What a horrible tragedy all around. Greed is so sad.

Posted by ParadigmShift
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I first met Jon 20 years ago? Perhaps 25. . .I am close to the family. Cannot seem to align the Jon I knew with the portrait many here are trying to portray of him (greedy? abusive?) - doesn't fit. I just can't imagine those traits in Jon.
What I do know: families become very strange when the elderly have money - will do and say what it takes to get control of an estate. I can't know if this is what is going on here but it's all I can possibly think of, knowing Jon.
Never saw a Bentley or Mercedes convertible. . .
And ask Jon's wife about him? Anyone saying that has apparently been sold a bill of goods. . .the two of them have been on the worst of terms for years.
Jon was a good man. May he rest in peace.

Posted by informed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Yes Ranch Gal one in the same.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Ranch Gal,

Yes it is the same

I'll pass your message on to Mrs. W It is great to hear from someone who actually rode and enjoyed the train of Prof. W.

Posted by in the know
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Paradigm Shift:

[Portion removed] The Bentley and the Mercedes were purchased with the widow's money. Armstrong didn't drive the Bentley much, but the Mercedes was his regular transportation for a while, until he was ordered to return it back to the widow.

The widow just owned an old Mercedeses what were owned by her late husband. She was certainly not the type who would buy a late model Mercedes and a Bentley.

If you can't believe all this, it's all in public records if you know where to look.

Posted by buckheit fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Jon Buckheit for President, 2016!

Posted by M. Porter
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm

My husband and I met Jon 10 years ago in a bible study class at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. The class met once a week for two years and Jon was always there. During the two years Jon married and became a father. He was overjoyed and so proud of his family. I didn't know Jon well but always found him to be a kind and caring person. Jon also sang in the church choir for over 10 years. I looked forward to seeing him there singing on Sunday mornings. Whenever my husband and I would run into him he was always a gentlemen. We will miss him and his positive contribution to our church family. Rest in peace Jon.

Posted by Ken Iisaka
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

As a friend of those who were affected by this terrible story, I would like to say thank you to The Almanac News for bringing the facts about this excruciating saga to light.

I am overjoyed to see that the victim's health has improved remarkably since she was "rescued." She was even able to have an Easter Dinner with her daughter sitting down at the dining room table, eating solid food for the first time in a very long time.

My only hope is that the relationship between the victim and the victim's daughter who have always loved each other will be restored, and will never be disrupted by an evil mind as we had seen.

To the friends of family of Jon Armstrong. I have no doubt in my mind that he was a charming uncle / friend / a devout Christian. I have met him on a number of occasions and his friendliness and politeness always impressed me. I send you my condolences as I don't think he had to kill himself. If he was helping the victim out of love, why did he not leave a suicide note, or even remove him from the widow's will, which he coerce the victim change to his advantage?

Posted by Involved
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Congrats to the Almanac for bringing the rest of this story. I know it is hard to believe by many that the man they knew was in fact withholding medical treatment to this woman for his own personal financial gain. It has a happy ending as the widow is doing much better now. Her health continues to improve. Never fear getting involved and taking a stand when you know something seems so wrong. Why would a 52 year old man be in a relationship with an 81 year old wealthy widow? It all seemed very unnatural from the start. Watching someone be kept from those that loved her. I am so glad she and her daughter are reunited and the abuse in this case seems over. The Atherton community should become closer and watch out for each other as we all know there is way to much room fence to fence. Don't be afraid to get to know your neighbors better. You never know when you may need them to watch out for you.

Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:58 pm

and I say: 'Congratulations to most!'

Does it take the tragic and utterly unnecessary death of a clearly lost and misguided soul amongst us to provoke such participation in community?

I strongly hope that those who wrote here do not disregard the wise and powerful words written by Mr. Carpenter, or the carefully crafted, factual, direct and eye-witness based words of Mr. Stogner.

How crass it is of some to anonymously distract and detract from the profundity of a man choosing to take his own life. We can only speculate as to his motivation and process.

Who amongst you cannot care for one who, regardless of his failings and misunderstanding of what is so, was still nothing less than our brother-man?

We are not separate from one another.


Posted by thomas
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 12:03 am

Dear Almanac,

Thanks again for providing exactly one side of the story. It's so easy to convict someone in the press when you heap one damning allegation after another on a dead man who never got to defend himself or give his side of the story.

Pathetic reporting. The writer should be ashamed.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 3:03 am

Thomas - The reporter simply reported the facts in so far as she was able to determine them. There has been ample opportunity in this Forum for intimates/friends/supporters to tell the other side of this story.
The lack of factual statements refuting what others have stated speaks loudly. When someone chooses to make themselves permanently unavailable for comment then it is inevitable that their voluntary silence will be interpreted accordingly.

Perhaps Thomas and other can refute the many facts presented above by others.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 6:07 am

An updated and expanded version of the original Almanac story has been posted. It is very illuminating and I recommend that everyone read it before commenting further.

Web Link

Posted by Involved
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 7:18 am

Just read the the rest of the story. You had to have been there to really get what was happening. I saw it first hand and I believe Jon had lots of opportunities to speak up regarding his side of the story.

If he stepped in front of the train on purpose then I imagine that was his statement to us.
But we really do not know for sure as there has yet to be a note of some sort found. At least that we are aware of.

I am sorry so many are upset that knew Jon as it seems many were very fond of him. I know the widow so my feelings are very different that those that knew Jon.

Remember this is simply a forum for comments good bad or otherwise.
Just people speaking their minds. But it shows people care even if they disagree.
Always 2 sides or more to every story. We all know that.

Posted by Blabber Mouth
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:31 am

To Michael G. Stogner, "In the Know," "Ken Iisaka", "Involved" and all the rest of you people who call yourselves friends of the little old lady:

[Portion removed]

Keep right on telling the intimate, private, personal details about this unfortunate woman for all of the world to view. [Portion removed] With friends like you, this woman don't need enemies.

Posted by Ditto
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:50 am

[Multiple posts removed; same poster using different names on this thread; see terms of use.]

Posted by oldtimeresident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

Hate to see a newspaper sponsor a forum for rumormongering, but here it is. What ever happened to old-fashioned standards of journalism- where sources of information were thoroughly investigated before "facts" were made public.

If this Jeanne Wickett is the same gentle lady I've known over a period of 50+ years, my heart breaks as I read this discussion. I had lost track of her following her husband's death. Thought her daughter lived in New England. Perhaps I'm confusing this woman with another Mrs. Wickett who has been a resident of Atherton? Can anyone clarify?

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm


This is a different Mrs. Wickett

Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 6, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Dear oldtimeresident.
Welcome to the 21st century world of blogging and the internet forum.
I too am a long time resident of Atherton, age 58, (been here since 1957) and am very encouraged by such a wonderful and "instant" way for folks to communicate and express their emotions, thoughts,legal facts via public record, and eye witness reporting. Until the internet, no one dreamed this type of communication would be possible. Through the Almanac forums, I have personally have learned so much more about our town politics and goings on, and have been able to virtually meet Peter Carpenter, Jon Buckheit, Michael Stogner, and many other fine folks that I have never would have met in person having not attended public meetings due to schedule conflicts and health reasons. Having met the gracious and lovely Mrs. Wickett many years ago, if it hadn't been for this Almanac story on line, I would never have known what transpired in the meantime. Thank you to the almanac for your forums. And I do not read in any of the comments where Mrs Wickett was adversely or negatively affected. Everyone who has written their comments about her have mentioned her with love and sadness for her situation. It brings a community closer together.

Posted by thomas
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm

There are so many on here who love to call allegations facts. Look up the definitions in the dictionary. The first thing a good lawyer tells his client when he has become the target of a witch hunt is not to speak with the police. That is everyones right under the law. It is not an admission of guilt. Nor is stepping in front of a train if that is what happened. The stress of having horrible allegations like this hanging over your head and the possibility of being found guilty can drive people to utter despair. I know from experience as I related in the very first post to this article. I don't know the alleged victim or perpetrator. I didn't know anything about the story until I read this article in the Almanac. It touched a nerve with me because I went through a similar situation and was finally vindicated after 3 years of hell. Losing friends, family, jobs and having the San Mateo Sheriff's Department intimidate, follow and pull my car over on six occassions for no reason. If you don't think it happens, you are naive. That's what my lawyer told me. If you had only heard the other parties side of the story in my case you would have offered to throw the rope over my neck yourself. But as in the 'Ox Bow Incident', a list of facts told by one side do not in the end amount to the truth. Everything is an allegation until you have a chance to defend yourself in court. Incredible to me that some people can't see that basic right in our system of law. Shame on you who sit at home and judge as if you are so smart you know everything. Even if you were a witness to events, you don't know everything.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Thomas, I am very sorry for your personal pain and suffering that you have experienced at the hands of the San Mateo County Sheriffs Department. Once the Sheriff's Department has determined that you are guilty they are going to make your life a living hell.

I have spoken before the Board of Supervisors on that specific subject. I told them I do not want my Sheriff's Department determining the guilt of our citizens. That is what juries are for.

I hope you will re-read the story here, this is a very different case, the SMCSO has nothing to do with this case.

I wish the very best for you in the future.

Posted by Ken Iisaka
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm


Of course none of us know everything. However, you know even less about this particular incident than many here. This discussion is not about you, though I am sorry you experienced much suffering. Every situation is different, and you cannot make a blanket statement that everyone else's experience must be the same as yours. Most likely, it isn't... well... perhaps it is.

This is a community forum that was kindly provided by The Almanac News. It makes no representation that the views and opinions stated by us represent those of The Almanac News. And I do think The Almanac News is doing a decent job of keeping this forum reasonably civilized and polite. The Almanac News was also simply reporting what is in the public court records. Where are Armstrong's friends and associates to defend him, other than that he was a nice guy who couldn't possibly do such an awful thing?

You are also hiding under a cloak without disclosing your identity. If you have an allegation that this discussion is akin to a witch hunt without any basis, I encourage you to identify yourself.


Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I too have been the victim of police abuse in the past, but this is not about you or me. Ken Iisaka is correct. Create another forum about "police harassment" ok?

Posted by sally
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I find it a very odd coincidence that the Jon Buckeit who is Mrs. Wickett's conservator, is the same Jon Buckeit from whom Charles Marsala was trying to borrow money. If Marsala is going to recuse himself when the subject of the loan is brought up, then Ms. McKeithen should recuse herself from any discussions re her new buddy, Jon Bucxkeit,

Posted by code blue
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

What is it that you are suggesting that McKeithen has done exactly???
What conflict of interest do you think she has that she would need to recuse herself from discussions on Buckheit?
Sounds like the same inuendo logic twist that was raised with the DNA spin earlier??
I am not expecting a reasonable response--but lets see you give it a try

Posted by go figure
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

There is a common thread here. McKeithen had the courage and integrity to intervene.

It is utterly shocking that the Atherton Police failed to respond when this case of elder abuse was brought to is attention in 2009 by a physician no less.

Buckheit stepped in and assumed the mantle of responsibility. Putting $6 million of his own money on the line as security.

The common thread is that we need more of Kathy McKeithen and Jon Buckheit and less of the likes of Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis in this town.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Mayor Kathy McKeithen is a Hero, It is that simple.

Posted by Writer B
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Looking at all the comments, as a writer I see a compelling story here, whoever's in the right -- or maybe it's all shades of gray. The suicide is the biggest question mark.

Posted by numbers cruncher
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

How right you are Writer B. There is a story here, a pulitzer prize winning story. It goes much broader and deeper than the Wickett case.

The challenge will be to weave together what is already in the public domain.

If you want some suggestions on where to look and how all of the piece parts fit in, I suggest dropping by tomorrow evening at Town Hall for the 6:15 PM meeting concerning Councilman Marsala. Stand at the base of the Pine Tree to the right of the front entrance to the Council Chambers. Alternatively you may post an e-mail address by which you can be contacted.

This is a story that must be told.

Posted by thomas
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm

First of all, I am not hiding my identity. I am providing my real name and town. Secondly, I only relate my personal experiences to show that innocent people can be hounded and falsely accused in situations like this. I'm not looking for any sympathy. It made me a stronger person. There are two things, elder abuse and child abuse that are so reviled in this society that the mere fact you've been accussed makes you guilty in most peoples minds.

As long as a bunch of neighbors, friends, witnesses and family members act as the police, DA, Judge, jury and hangman, I will speak up. The point is that this man was never found to be guilty in a court of law. So, stop insisting that it is a FACT that he is guilty. That is not your job.


Posted by Involved
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 7, 2010 at 4:21 am

If those that stepped in had not gotten involved and just stayed out of this situation what would that really say about us as people. This story would have had another ending within days. So we did in some way have to act as judge to make that judgement and step in to save a life. We really can not just sit back and leave everything to others just because it is not our job. That is a sad way to live really. It is a very emotional topic for many as they are so close to the 2 people. But I would really suggest you not confuse your own situation with this one. It should be all of our jobs to take action in defense of the young, weak or elderly. Defend the defenseless. The situation was simply not right and as there is now not going to be a trial many will struggle with the facts. Just because one has not been found guilty in a court of law does that really mean one is not? or just that they ,ight have gotten away with the crime.

Posted by thomas
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

I never said people should not have stepped in when they suspected something was wrong. That was the right thing to do. No doubt about that. All I'm saying is that the high and mighty people who have posted on here that it is a fact this man is guilty of the allegations against him are wrong. It is not a fact. He never had a chance to defend himself in a court of law. He had no obligation to speak with the police, ever. If he was charged with a crime, the only person he was obligated to speak with was his lawyer if he chose.

Posted by involved
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 7, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Thomas I believe he did and does have an attorney. Just to bad he was unable to have his day in court. I am not sure why he possibly made this choice and did not wait for his day in court. I guess we will never know. I think a lot of people are releasing feelings they have had for some time and others are just learning about the situation. Lots of this is hard to grasp for many. I am not sure they really mean to seem high and mighty but as they most likely have never been accused of such a crime they would not know that potential aspect first hand. It will be revealed I imagine over time as to the truth or at least as much as possible without Mr Armstrong' input. We can just wait for that to play out. Until then this forum will eventually end and people will go on with their lives and talk about this over coffee without the anger and hostility as it is simply sad these situations even take place at all.

Posted by Friend of Jon Armstrong
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 12, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Dear ShameonYou,

I am/was a friend of Jon's and from the very first time I met him, I found him to be one of the kindest man I have ever met. Ten days ago before I left on vacation, I put his business card on my desk to give him a call upon my return. To return and find out he is no longer with us was a sad, sad day for me. Since I don't know his family, I tried to google information on his memorial service and place of burial so that I can pay my respects and say goodbye but was unable to do so. If you could kindly respond to this post with a way to reach you, I would greatly appreciate it. I am reluctant to post my contact info seeing that there are so many belligerent [portion removed] with too much time on their hands who would probably take it upon themselves to attack Jon's friends as well since they have no issue slandering a man who is no longer alive to defend himself.

My thoughts are with your family and with Jon, wherever he is. I am completely heartbroken for his daughter.

Friend of Jon Armstrong

Posted by Friend of Jon Armstrong
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm

[Post removed; see terms of use]

Posted by Friend of Jon Armstrong
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2010 at 8:49 am

I too, agree 100% with friend of Jon Armstrong. My family and I have known him for several years and are debastated by his death. He had a heart of gold and loved his daughter more than life itself. I respect everyone's opinions, however;the person they are slandering is not the Jon we knew and loved so dearly. He certainly will forever live in our hearts and be remembered as the great friend and father he was. Mr. Armstrong WE LOVE YOU.....

Posted by my two cents worth
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

For those who were friends of Jon Armstrong, my condolences.

I have lost someone close to me recently. The one whom I lost was of the same age as Mr. Armstrong. I feared this loved one's death was a suicide. It appears as though such was not the case.

Mr. Armstrong's fate (be it willingly or unwilling ) is in the hands of God. Let us all pray that God will be merciful with Mr. Armstrong no matter what Mr. Armstrong's earthly actions were.

It is true Mr. Armstrong is no longer amongst us. He is unable to defend himself. We owe it to Mr. Armstrong's friend and foe alike to remember what was good in Armstrong and to forgive whatever was bad.

There is a struggle within all of us, between good and evil. For some good prevails, for others unfortunately bad prevails, for others the struggle is too much to bear.

We know not now, nor will we ever know which truth applies to Mr. Armstrong. I do know that the posters who speak of his love for his daughter speak the truth.

I have borne witness to this demonstration of love. There is grieving to be done for those whom Mr. Armstrong left behind. There are prayers to be said for he who has departed.

Posted by Debbie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I am sad people are so quick to judge others and think the worst when they only know part of a story. The Jon Armstrong I knew was a caring man, who tried to do what he thought was right, in difficult circumstances. What observers/neighbors see and what is really happening can be very different things.

I have lived in West Menlo for more than 20 years and have felt proud to live in what I thought was a caring, enlightened community. This blog; full of hateful half-truths, innuendos and rumors makes me feel ashamed of my community.

Posted by Ken Iisaka
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I truly sympathise with those who were friends with the late Jon Armstrong. I am certain that he was a good man to you, and I have no doubt about that. I have met him a number of times, and he and I had a number of mutual acquaintances in surprising places: not only in his social circles, but also through his alma mater, his church, etc.

However, having seen first hand what he had done to the victim, and the consequences of his own actions in the eyes of the legal authority, I am not terribly surprised by the effrontery he had committed to himself. One side of the view does not complete the picture. There are many sides about which we do not know. Unfortunately, none of us will find out the complete story.

Posted by bill zaner
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Anonymous has good reason to be skeptical.

Here is the link:

Web Link

There are several things I find troubling about the Wickett case.

The case was investigated in 2007. Another complaint was filed in 2009. It wasn't until Ms. Wickett was rescued by Ms. McKeithen that Sherman Hall began his investigation.

The Wickett case raises some disturbing questions:

Was the 2009 case a continuation of the pattern of behavior that started in 2007. It seems so because the alleged predator was involved with Ms. Wickett from 2007 through 2009. If such is the case, why didn't the police intervene in 2007?

Why wasn't Sherman Hall's investigation started in June 2009 when the Wickett case was referred to the Atherton PD? Why didn't Sherman Hall or someone else in Atherton react more quickly instead of waiting until December after the Mayor made a visit to the Wickett household in December 2009 and arranged for her rescue?

There is no indication as to the cause of Armstrong's death, specifically whether it was accidental, a suicide or something more sinister. This raises the question: Why did Sherman Hall drop the investigation like a hot potato after Armstrong's death.

The second in command at the time of Wickett's initial referal to the Atherton PD was Glen Nielsen. Shortly thereafter he was promoted to chief. Nielsen was reputed to be a friend of Wickett. However it wasn't Nielsen who intervened. Shouldn't Nielsen who was a friend of Ms. Wickett have intervened more promptly? Couldn't Nielsen have saved the life of one and possibly two individuals?

The final question is the most troubling of all because Nielsen took an oath and collected a salary for protecting all in the community, not just the elderly. In this case, the Atherton PD as a whole and quite possibly Glenn Nielsen himself turned a blind eye to this shocking behavior.

Posted by code blue
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

A few finer points for Mr, Zaner
McKiethen's rescue intervention of Ms, Wickett was not in Dec of 09 but the end of January (maybe the 27th?) of this year 2010--about one week after she was first notified of the abusive situation. It was just in the nick of time to save this life.
Chief Neilson may have put himself in charge of Keeping an eye on Ms. Wickett over the years, so that he could "monitor" the situation for the D.A, who had received multiple letters of concern for several years at that point, [Portion removed; unsubstantiated accusations of criminal or unethical behavior violate terms of use.]

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