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Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel
BY AMY CALDER, Staff Writer
November 23, 2008
Sandra May McIntyre, like many children, grew up watching television, dreaming of becoming a star herself one day.
Her brother, Charles, loved “The Dukes of Hazzard.” She idolized singer Paula Abdul.
They’d stay up late watching their shows. He decorated his bedroom with everything Dukes. She’d dance around her room, listening to Abdul CDs and singing her heart out.
Sometime during her young life, spent in the towns of Clinton, Madison and Skowhegan, Sandra McIntyre stopped dreaming and decided to make her dream a reality.
At 16, she changed her name to Paula; in her 20s, she took her grandparents’ last name, Goodspeed.
Determined to become a singer like Abdul, she packed her bags about five years ago and headed for Hollywood.
She did some modeling, took singing lessons and did everything she could to get Abdul’s attention, even managing to land an appearance on the reality TV show “American Idol.” Abdul is a show judge, with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.
But Goodspeed’s performance did not go well. She was ridiculed for the braces on her teeth, told her singing was terrible and belittled for her lack of talent.
On Nov. 11, 30-year-old Paula Goodspeed was found dead in her Toyota Camry, parked outside Abdul’s Los Angeles home, apparently of a drug overdose. Just days before, she had sent the singer flowers.
Harbored great sadness
What took Goodspeed, a seemingly happy child and aspiring performer, to that lonely, tortured place where she felt unimportant and with no hope for the future?
Grieving family members say she struggled with manic depression and an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. She also harbored a great sadness from when her two children were taken by the state several years ago amidst a bad marriage, said Goodspeed’s mother, Sandra McIntyre.
“She was beautiful,” McIntyre said from California this week, where she was preparing to bring her daughter’s ashes back to Maine. “She was a beautiful, beautiful daughter and I helped her as much as I could. I can’t bear the loss of being without her. It’s so hard.”
Sandra McIntyre, 56, of Skowhegan, moved to California in January to be with her daughter, who had shriveled from 140 pounds when she left Maine, to 78 pounds at her death. They lived in an apartment about 20 miles from Abdul’s house.
As show-business dreams dissipated for Goodspeed, and because Abdul ignored Goodspeed’s attempts to contact her, Goodspeed’s moods plummeted, her mother said.
“Since I have been out here all this year, she has gone to her psychologist a lot and it didn’t seem to help,” McIntyre said. “She was so depressed that she just felt like she wasn’t worthy of this world — that’s how depressed she was.”
Obsessed with Paula Abdul
Media reports about Goodspeed’s death indicate she was obsessed with Abdul, tried to dress like the singer and stalked her.
McIntyre acknowledges that her daughter idolized Abdul but said Goodspeed never was a stalker. She was only 5-foot-2, but had a big yet fragile heart, she said.
Goodspeed had bumped into Abdul in a coffee shop after moving to California and they chatted there, her family said. But later, on the set of “American Idol,” Abdul did little to acknowledge her, McIntyre said. She said her daughter drew pictures of Abdul and gave them to her on the show’s set, but Abdul did not appear impressed.
“Paula had her (Abdul) on a pedestal — she could do no wrong,” McIntyre said.
After Goodspeed died, her fiance , Paul McInnis, flew to California to help her mother tie up her affairs.
McInnis, an environmental consultant from South Paris, said Goodspeed died a day before she was to have moved back to Maine with her mother.
Their airline tickets had been purchased, and they were packed for the trip, said McInnis, who planned to pick them up at the airport on arrival in Maine. He said he spoke with Goodspeed by phone just hours before she died.
“The last time I talked to her I told her I couldn’t wait to see her,” he said.
He said he and Goodspeed met in Bangor several years ago through friends and they became engaged last Valentine’s Day. She wanted to get married on Valentine’s Day next year, he said.
McInnis said he supported her financially while she was in California and encouraged her efforts to get into show business. They maintained daily contact, either by calling or text-messaging. He visited her in California, and she came to Maine to see him.
McInnis, 55, said he was much older than Goodspeed, but that they shared a bond that was special. He said he is devastated by her death.
“She was the most wonderful person I ever met,” he said. “She was fun to be with.”
Goodspeed was constantly dealing with issues from her past, but always was good to him, he said.
“She was the most loving, kind, funny person. I’ve never known anyone like her.”
Distressed about sons
McIntyre and McInnis said police impounded Goodspeed’s Toyota after her death, and they were waiting for it to be released so they could bring it to Maine. McIntyre said a funeral would be held here when they return.
She said her daughter was very distressed about the loss of her boys, who are now 11 and 13 and in foster homes.
“It hurt her too much to talk about them,” McIntyre said. “She tried to push them to the back of her mind.”
McIntyre made no apologies for Goodspeed, whom she acknowledged was independent in many ways.
“She was a person who dressed the way she wanted to dress and if it was wild, she didn’t care. She was just herself. Very artistic … I love her dearly and I miss her dearly.”
She said Goodspeed had a cockatoo named Sunshine that lived in her apartment. She had it for six years and it will continue to be cared for.
“Paul and I are going to take turns because I’ve grown so attached to her,” McIntyre said.
Her voice softening, McIntyre recalled the joy she felt the day she brought her baby daughter home from Osteopathic Hospital (now Inland Hospital) in Waterville. It was the Fourth of July, 1978, and she would be the youngest of her five children.
“She was born at 3:30 in the morning,” she said. “She was my firecracker.”
Loved to sing, dance
Clinton Elementary School Secretary Ellen Lunt has a vision of Sandra May McIntyre etched in her mind, and she has been revisiting it a lot over the past few days.
It is of “Little Sandy,” as she was known in those days, at roughly 6 years old, walking to school.
“She was a little, petite, dark-haired girl — always had a smile on her face, and her older siblings were very caring of her,” Lunt said. “Mostly what I remember is that she was very, very mothered by these older siblings and they lived within walking distance of the school. We had half-day kindergarten in those days. She always walked with the others.”
That was in the early 1980s. In 1988, her mother and father, Charles “Buddy” McIntyre, got divorced and “Little Sandy” moved to Madison and then Skowhegan with her mother. Young Sandra ultimately graduated from Crossroads, the alternative high school in Skowhegan.
Her father, who later had another son from a subsequent relationship, continues to live in Clinton. On Friday he was grieving for his lost daughter, whom he said was a special child.
“She was delicate, like a butterfly,” he said. “Innocent. Wonderful.”
The younger Sandra McIntyre loved to sing and dance, recalled her brother, Charles McIntyre II, 36, of Oakland.
“My father and mother got her one of those karaoke things,” he said. “She was always doing that, trying to make herself better and better. When she was in Maine, she wasn’t sad or anything like that. It was when she went to California. Every time she tried, she got a door slammed in her face.”
‘Can you imagine?’
Charles McIntyre II and his fianc e, Melissa Pike, 34, say they are angry about the way his sister was treated on “American Idol.” Even after her death, she is now being made fun of on the Internet, where a video of her television appearance, and the judges’ criticism of her, is accessible.
“Can you imagine all the teenagers and children watching that who have braces? Can you imagine how that made them feel?” Pike asks.
Hollywood reporters have pursued the couple since Goodspeed died. The Dr. Phil show called and wants them to fly to Los Angeles to do a show, Charles said.
“Friends and family are telling me to do it,” he said. “I want to clear my sister’s name.” He doesn’t believe Goodspeed knowingly would cause her own death.
She may have been taking too much prescribed medicine — Seroquel and Prozac — for her body size, he said.
“They said she OD’d on Seroquel. They said it slowed her heart right down till it stopped. They did do a blood test and that’s how they found out it was an overdose.”
For the family, knowing Goodspeed’s return to Maine was so close, and realizing she will never come home again, is painfully real.
“I’ll never get over it,” her mother said.
Her father said he experiences a falling effect each time he realizes his daughter is dead.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve crashed. It’s not over yet. It’s difficult to think she’s absent. It hurts real bad.”
Amy Calder — 861-9247