Gretchen Molannen, the woman who battled a rare sexual arousal disorder, took her life sometime in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, almost two days before she was found, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Det. Bryan Faulkingham said it was hard to be precise about when she died, but it was likely only hours after she was last seen by her boyfriend around 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 29. Her boyfriend and two other family friends found her before midnight on Dec. 1.
The Tampa Bay Times profiled Molannen, 39, in a story that first appeared online Nov. 30. The story explored her 16-year struggle with persistent genital arousal disorder. Women with the condition are physically but not psychologically aroused. Many masturbate for hours for just a few minutes of relief. Some doctors believe the condition is caused by a nerve malfunction. Molannen could not work and had been denied Social Security disability twice. She had tried to commit suicide three times in the past year.
The Times read the story to Molannen in its entirety several days before it was published. In a subsequent email, Molannen said she was happy with it and looked forward to seeing it online.
But the timing of Molannen's death means she likely didn't see the story before she died, Faulkingham said.
She died of asphyxiation. She left no note and told no one she planned to kill herself.
On the message board of an online support group for more than 300 women with the disorder, her death hit close to home.
"The next time you feel like it's all too much and you want to end it … you always have God and those you leave behind … so think once, twice, three times, four and more before you do something so permanent. … You ARE loved," wrote a woman named Daneen.
Jeannie Allen, a California woman who started the support group, said the members are trying to figure out a way to honor Molannen.
One woman has started a petition to get the Social Security Administration to recognize persistent genital arousal disorder as a disability. Another was trying to raise money for her funeral.
Heather Dearmon, a South Carolina woman who communicated often with Molannen by email, has set up an account at helpgretchen.chipin.com. As of Friday, she had raised $340.
Funeral arrangements are uncertain. Her disabled brother is a ward of the state. Molannen had told friends she wanted to be buried near her father in Wisconsin.
Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at (727) 893-8640.