By the second Sunday of April this year, Michael C. Ruppert was broke. The 63-year-old cop-turned-writer and firebrand gained fame by starring in Collapse, a 2009 documentary in which he predicts society’s destruction. Publicity from the film was great — he went on a countrywide promotional tour — but compensation had fizzled out. By April, he was receiving just a couple hundred dollars per month in royalties to supplement his meager Social Security checks.
In an effort to simplify his life, Ruppert had gradually sold, tossed out, or given away nearly all of his possessions, which included an arsenal of guns, countless books, and government documents. All that remained was a collection of sentimental knickknacks, along with clothes appropriate for a man in his 60s: button-up shirts, dark-colored slacks, a few flannels, a couple of L.L. Bean jackets, and a gray cowboy hat. Everything he owned fit into his burgundy 2000 Lincoln Continental.
For the last eight years, Ruppert had largely lived off the goodwill of friends and followers. When he made public requests for money — either through his weekly podcast, “The Lifeboat Hour,” or in posts to more than 5,000 Facebook followers — he received checks in the mail. When he needed a place to stay, people opened their homes. And it’s no surprise why: to subscribers of his elaborate theories — that the CIA trafficked drugs; that the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks; or that the human race will face extinction by 2030 — Ruppert was a soldier who fought under the banner of truth. In exchange for exposing dark secrets, he was persecuted by authorities and shadowy organizations: he’d received death threats — both explicit and covert, he said — because he knew too much.
So when he made a plea for a place to stay early this year, a follower and friend named Jack Martin in Calistoga, California, offered up a modest trailer. That’s where, on the evening of April 13th, Ruppert committed suicide with a gunshot to the head. According to Ruppert’s friends, his suicide at first seemed sudden and unexpected — a brash decision during a dark moment. But looking back over his life and final days, Ruppert’s suicide resembles a grand finale — the end of a trail he’d been following for decades.