As world mourns Zombie Boy Rick Genest, his family believes his death was an accident
The model plunged to his sudden death from the fourth floor of his Plateau-Mont-Royal home, right after he told his girlfriend that he was "going for a cigarette"
While the police believe that Zombie Boy aka model Rick Genest may have jumped to his death from his Montreal apartment in an apparent suicide, his grieving family members are convinced it was a tragic accident.
The 32-year-old Canadian model allegedly plunged to his death from the fourth floor balcony of his Plateau-Mont-Royal home, right after telling his girlfriend that he was "going for a cigarette" on August 1. According to TMZ, paramedics arrived at the scene and performed CPR, but could not revive the Zombie Boy.
Genest's manager Karim Leduc told the media on Saturday that his family believes the death was just from a horrible accident. He also revealed that Genest would often smoke in his apartment's balcony, leaning against the railings, and his family believes it is this bad habit that led to the tragedy.
"I've been on that balcony before. It's an emergency balcony, and it's supposed to be locked. It's a fire hazard exit so the rail guard is extremely low," Leduc told USA Today. "I'm exactly his height, five foot ten and a half inches and that rail guard comes... low, below the hips."
Leduc also pointed out that Genest usually went to his balcony for a smoke whenever he was home. "So he goes on the backside of the balcony and sort of sits on the rail guard," Leduc said. "And from what we know, he fell on his backside... He could have just lost balance."
Leduc claimed that an autopsy showed no drugs in Genest's system and that a coroner is currently analyzing video footage of the area the death took place for more insight into the cause of death. He did not even leave leave a suicide note, Leduc said. "Not leaving a suicide note to anybody is very unusual. He wrote to me every day... He was very expressive."
While there was no suicide note, the model did leave a mysterious post on Facebook — the Zombie Boy's final post was a haunting self-penned poem called The Well. He wrote: "Each breath cuts ice as flesh is weighed." The poem spoke of "dire straights" and a "soul being cast down".
One poignant line says: "In front of deaths old narrow gates, where bold and brazen last rites crate." And the last line reads: "Release by moonlight glow."
Also, just months prior to this tragedy, Genest shared a photo of himself on a hospital bed, along with a joking exchange between a patient and a doctor. In the photo, he is seen brooding into the camera, wearing a shirt with the words "Kill me" written on it.
The Canadian model was known for his head-to-toe corpse-like tattoos. He had also starred alongside Lady Gaga in her Born This Way music video in 2011.
His death was confirmed through Facebook by his agency, Dulcedo Management, who paid tribute to the "icon of the artistic scene". Their post said: "The whole dulcedo family is shocked and pained by this tragedy. Zombie Boy, Rico, was loved by all those who had the chance to meet him and know him. Icon of the artistic scene and the fashion world, this innovator, against popular culture, has been able to charm all hearts."
They continued: "We received the unfortunate news at the beginning of the afternoon and members of the team have come to support his family and relatives in this dark and difficult moment. We want to present our deepest condolences and the legend will survive human. Thank you zb for these beautiful moments in your company and for your radiant smile."
Lady Gaga also took to social media to express her condolences and urged people with mental illnesses to speak up and seek help. Writing on Twitter, she said: "The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating. We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it. If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other."
Genest had been diagnosed with a brain tumor at 15, during which he was also told he was unlikely to survive the surgery. It is after that that he developed a love for the macabre. Back in 2016, he had told The Sun: “Even the doctors told me I got lucky. I blurred the lines between life and death and I’m still doing that now. My friends called me Zombie because of my past."
A year later, he was living on the streets, washing cars and doing odd jobs to get by, and that's when he got his first tattoo of a skull and crossbones on his arm. From that point, his inkings grew and so did his fame, and after a while, he was working in freak shows where he would eat worms and pig intestines to go with his corpse-like look.
In 2011, Lady Gaga's stylist spotted him and got him to model in Paris. Soon after, he would go on to star in the Born This Way music video, and right after, he became the face of Jay Z’s Rocawear label.
Speaking about working with Gaga, he described her as "really fun and really professional". "She gave me a big hug when I met her and she laughed at my jokes. "A lot of people ask me about when I got my first tattoo but she asked me: 'At what age did you first think about getting your first tattoo?'. My response was when I was about five or six years old. I liked that question."