Gas poisoning victim was New Orleans scientist

Was found in car with warning notes taped to windows

April 04, 2014 at 11:21 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Monica Biancardi's body was found inside this car in Paradis on Wednesday morning.
Monica Biancardi's body was found inside this car in Paradis on Wednesday morning.
A woman who died in an meticulously planned gas poisoning suicide in Paradis has been identified as a New Orleans scientist.

The body of Monica Noel Biancardi, 32, was discovered on the morning of Wednesday, April 2 in a car parked behind a row of sheds at Torres Service Center in Paradis.

Biancardi, a Sarasota, Fla. native, was employed as a research scientist with the Audubon Center for Research and Endangered Species in New Orleans for nearly six years. Her work focused on using molecular biology to research the conservation of endangered species. She had a graduate degree in reproductive physiology from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Smith College.

A friend said Biancardi had been in a lot of physical pain over the past few years which was not resolved through medical care and that Biancardi had worked professionally with chemicals, such as the gas that is said to have been used.

Biancardi seems to have taken measures to ensure no one was hurt in the incident. The method of suicide she is thought to have employed involved the inhalation of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas used in lab experiments and created by industrial processes. She was found shrouded in a shower curtain and the vents in her car had been taped shut. It is unclear if the gas used had come from her place of employment or how it had been deployed.

A man who was on his way to work on Wednesday found Biancardi’s body. He said he saw her slumped over in the driver’s seat of the car, and as he approached the vehicle he noticed a sulphur smell in the air. Notes were posted on each side of the car warning that toxic gases had been released in the vehicle.

The notes, produced by a computer printer, read in large letters, “Warning! Toxic gas. H2S Hydrogen Sulfide. Do not attempt to enter vehicle. Call HAZMAT.” They also included a number to the Louisiana hazardous materials hotline. 

St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange said it was apparent that multiple measures were taken to ensure the gases did not escape the vehicle.

“The shower curtain was constructed to the point where it would contain the gases to where it would flow directly to her. She manufactured it herself, we believe, that way the gases would flow directly to her and none would escape. It was set up in a situation where it would be contained in the area where she was in the vehicle,” he said.

After Biancardi was removed from the vehicle, officials from the St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center, along with ES&H, a hazardous materials remediation contractor, worked to stabilize the scene and ensure the cleanup of any hazardous materials.

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office has wrapped up their investigation of the incident and ruled it a suicide.

"There are no signs of foul play as far as our investigation is concerned and we are ruling it a suicide,” LaGrange said.

Officials from the Louisiana State Police, Monsanto, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Coroner’s Office and the Paradis Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene.

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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