Today the democratic mayoral candidate for New York City Bill De Blasio released a statement the his father, Warren Wilhelm, had killed himself in 1979. In July of that year, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Wilhelm parked his car in front of the Rocky River Motel in New Milford, Connecticut, and shot himself.
This is the first time De Blasio, who has talked very little about his estranged father, has mentioned how he died.
Here is what you need to know:
1. He Served and Was Injured in WWII
In the battle, Wilhelm reportedly lost part of his leg and suffered severe psychological damage from which he would never recover.
2. He was an Alcoholic Estranged From a Son
Speaking in June to the New York Daily News, De Blasio opened up about his father’s alcoholism, and their strained relationship, but never mentioned his death:
It was like every time I saw him, he was drunk, and it was just a reality. He had these demons that he couldn’t beat.
De Blasio also made it clear that from the age of 7, he knew that things “were breaking apart.”
The New York Post also reported that De Blasio said on WBGO-FM:
I think honestly, as we now know about veterans who return, [he] was going through physically and mentally a lot from that point on. And by the time I came along in the beginning of the 60s, he was unfortunately in a downward spiral.
3. Bill Changed His Name
Given his estrangement from his father at a young age, De Blasio felt a strong attachment to his mother’s side of the family, the De Blasio family.
The New York Post reports that New York City mayoral candidate first changed his name from Warren Wilhelm Jr., to Warren De Blasio-Wilhelm, and finally to Bill De Blasio.
4. The New York Post ‘Broke’ the Story
The New York Post has garnered some controversy in their reporting of the story and its branding as “exclusive content.”
The story has also been criticized as morbid and irrelevant.
5. De Blasio Released a Statement
Although De Blasio refused to give a comment on the story to the New York Post, he did release the following statement:
While this has been a private part of my family’s life, it is now clear a media story will soon emerge. My father tragically ended his life while battling terminal cancer in 1979