NEW YORK – Like many members of the Enron family, Cliff Baxter lived well in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, Texas & but it was in that neighborhood where he also apparently took his life.
Early Friday morning, Baxter was found by Sugar Land police — a bullet wound to the head — slumped over the steering wheel in his Mercedes sedan.
"We are going to do a thorough investigation including an autopsy, and the investigation will depend on the results of the autopsy," said Sgt. Truman Body of the Sugar Land Police Department.
Baxter, 43, spent much of his career at the energy trading giant. A deal-maker at a company where wheeling and dealing was almost sport, Baxter kept a quiet profile until he rose to the vice-chairman's position in August of 2000.
Although he resigned that position just nine months later, Baxter couldn't cut his ties to the brewing scandal that was about to engulf the company.
In August, he was named in a smoking-gun memo sent by Enron Vice President Sharon Watkins to Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay. Watkins saying that Baxter, "complained mightily... about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM" — referring to one of Enron's controversial and perhaps illegal partnerships.
In fact, congressional investigators had been in contact with Baxter's attorney as late as this week. Committee members had hoped to interview Baxter — suspecting that Baxter may have known something funny was going on at Enron when he abruptly resigned last spring.
And less than 24 hours before his death, an article in the Chicago Tribune named Baxter as one of seven Enron executives who made huge amounts of money by bailing out of Enron stock last year.
In fact, insider-trading figures obtained by Fox News show that Baxter made $28 million from his Enron stock sales from 1998-2001.