April 1, 2015

Missouri auditor’s spokesman’s note: ‘I just can’t take being unemployed again’

The family of the state auditor’s office spokesman, Spence Jackson, wanted a note found in his apartment Sunday to be released in hopes of ending some speculation into why he apparently committed suicide.

Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker releases additional details about the apparent suicide of state auditor's spokesman Spence Jackson

Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker releases additional details about the apparent suicide of state auditor’s spokesman Spence Jackson

Jefferson City Police say Jackson died from a single gunshot wound to the head, and they are investigating his death as a suicide. Ballistics testing of a .357 Magnum revolver found with him and the bullet it fired, and gunshot residue testing of his hand, are continuing.

Police Captain Doug Shoemaker told the media what was contained in the note found with Jackson but declined to release a copy or image of it.

He said the note read, “I’m so sorry. I just can’t take being unemployed again.”

“We understand the media’s desire to know the contents of the letter. This interest is based on what is certainly speculative from a variety of alleged sources,” said Shoemaker. “In the interest of providing some context to this tragedy or at least to eliminate some of that speculation, it’s the family’s expressed desire that we release the content of the note in its entirety to the media.”

“I think that the letter, at its face value, is maybe not as … not what you were thinking it would be, potentially,” Shoemaker told reporters Tuesday. He said the family wanted the letter released, “probably because of what has been put out in the media in terms of possibilities and questions and queries and different types of things, and it was the family’s belief that this could help potentially clear things up.”

“To eliminate that speculation, I think, is very key to the case and perhaps even more importantly, key to the family not having to deal with some of those perceptions and those issues,” said Shoemaker.

Jackson’s letter had Friday’s date on it. Shoemaker said that meshes with the preliminary indications of the investigation that his death occurred Friday afternoon or evening.

“He did report to work on Friday for a partial day,” said Shoemaker. “He was, in fact, in his office on Friday, as he was seen by many of his co-workers, but left at noon, presumably for a lunch break, and he did not return to the office.”

“We’ve spoken with those that were there and who talked with him, and they reported no behavior out of the ordinary,” Shoemaker added of the Auditor’s staff.

Shoemaker said there is no indication so far that Jackson’s death was anything other than a suicide, or that it was motivated by anything other than what was indicated in his note.

Jackson was still employed by the state auditor’s office at the time of his death. His interim replacement, David Luther, responded to a Missourinet inquiry as to whether Jackson’s employment status had changed, or whether he had been given an indication it would be.

Luther replied, “When Interim Auditor John Watson took over, he met with senior staff. At that time he noted that every one’s job was secure, but that when the new interim was appointed, there would be a possibility of change. There were no individual conversations with staff.”

Shoemaker said the investigation is continuing to trace back Jackson’s activities in the hours and days before his death.

Earlier stories:

Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead

Police investigating death of former Schweich spokesman as a suicide

Despite controversy, Tom Schweich spokesman’s death to be investigated like any other

Missouri GOP Chairman says ‘whispering campaign’ disproven, ‘tired of talking about’ controversy after Schweich death

Missouri Deputy Auditor remembers fun professional spokesman

 

Missouri deputy auditor remembers ‘fun,’ ‘professional’ spokesman

Those in and close to the state auditor’s office have suffered another emotional blow this week with the death of its communications director, Spence Jackson.

Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto

Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto

Jefferson City Police say it appears he committed suicide in his apartment just over a month after his boss, auditor Tom Schweich, committed suicide at his home in Clayton.

Deputy Auditor Harry Otto says Jackson was hit as hard as anyone by Schweich’s death.

“He was very emotional initially and at the funeral, and expressed his feelings, but he went right back to work and I didn’t notice that he had really missed a step,” Otto told Missourinet from vacation out-of-state, which is where he was when he heard about Jackson’s death Sunday evening.

Asked how he’s coping, Otto became emotional but told Missourinet, “I have faith, I have family, and I have friends. It gets you through.”

He said he spoke to Jackson before leaving the state last week.

“I think I stopped by his office a couple of times and said, ‘Hello,’ and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary,” said Otto.

“Spence was a fun guy and he was a fun guy to work with,” Otto said, again struggling to keep his composure. “He was very professional.”

Otto did not want to speculate about the circumstances behind Jackson’s death.

Video: Jefferson City police on the investigation of Jackson’s death


Earlier stories:

Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead

Police investigating death of former Schweich spokesman as a suicide

Despite controversy, Tom Schweich spokesman’s death to be investigated like any other

Missouri GOP Chairman says ‘whispering campaign’ disproven, ‘tired of talking about’ controversy after Schweich death

Despite controversy, Tom Schweich spokesman’s death to be investigated like any other (VIDEO)

Jefferson City Police say they are aware of the suicide of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich just over a month before the suicide of his communications director, Spence Jackson, but say they will investigate Jackson’s death as they would any other.

Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker

Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker

“It doesn’t mean we do anything more or less on this investigation in terms of initially, than we would anyone else,” Police Captain Doug Shoemaker said in a media conference Monday morning. “We try and look into the investigation the same. If there are more complexities that come about as a part of this investigation due to the very nature of it, then we’ll certainly investigate those as well and that’s our intent.”

Shoemaker acknowledged that there are possible complexities, in that Schweich’s death February 26 has been the subject of controversy in the past month and Jackson was one of those who had spoken to the media about who he thought was to blame.

“We’re very aware of the political issues surrounding Mr. Schweich’s death, and then within a month we have the death of his spokesperson, so we’re clearly of the understanding of what’s taking place,” said Shoemaker. “We are doing everything possible to try and make sure that we do this investigation the best way we can, and if that involves other things that we normally would not look into simply because of his profession, then we’ll do that, but we’re not quite as of yet.”

Friends and colleagues, including Jackson, say Schweich believed he was the target of a whispering campaign by Missouri Republican John Hancock and say that contributed to his decision to take his own life.  Jackson was one of the first to publicly call for Hancock to resign because he, too, believed Hancock had been telling potential donors Schweich was Jewish.  Schweich believed that was intended to hurt him among Evangelical Christians.  Schweich was actually Episcopalian.

“Our agency won’t comment or really entertain questions that might link Mr. Jackson to any type of political issue whether it’s perceived or real,” said Shoemaker.

Shoemaker said investigators are reaching out to the state auditor’s office and Clayton police, but would not speak about what those contacts would be about.

Police say they were called Sunday evening by Jackson’s mother, who had been unable to reach him. She was with officers when they went to his apartment to check on his well-being, but Shoemaker said she did not go inside with them when they found his body.

Spence Jackson is the communications director for the State Auditor's Office, where he worked with Auditor Tom Schweich.

Spence Jackson

“Initial assessment of the scene indicated that Jackson died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Police said in a statement released Monday morning. Shoemaker said a .357 Magnum revolver was found “in the vicinity” of his body with one round having been fired.

One reporter said he had been told Jackson did not own a gun, and Shoemaker told him police have not established who owned the one that was found.

A note was found with Jackson, but Shoemaker would not discuss what it said. He could not confirm whether its contents would be released.

“We’ll see how the investigation goes, but again we try and focus these investigations out of courtesy to the family,” said Shoemaker. “We’ll obviously comply with any laws with regard to the release of that information at a later time, but since this is an open investigation we won’t comment as to what’s contained.”

Shoemaker said investigators are still trying to determine who was the last person to have contact with Jackson. He said authorities will be closer to identifying a time of death when the autopsy is complete, but said, “We believe most likely [his death] occurred early in the weekend, most likely Friday possibly into Saturday.”

He could not confirm when the results of the autopsy might be released. Toxicology tests can take weeks to be completed.

 

Earlier stories:

UPDATE:  Police investigating death of Schweich spokesman as a suicide

Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead

Missouri GOP Chairman says ‘whispering campaign’ disproven, ‘tired of talking about’ controversy after Schweich death

UPDATE: Police investigating death of former Schweich spokesman as a suicide

Jefferson City Police confirm they are investigating the apparent suicide of Spence Jackson, the spokesman for the late state auditor Tom Schweich, who committed suicide February 26.

Spence Jackson is the communications director for the State Auditor's Office, where he worked with Auditor Tom Schweich.

Spence Jackson

Police say a member of Jackson’s family asked them to check on his well-being after they were unable to reach him. They went to his Jefferson City apartment shortly after 7 p.m. and found Jackson in his bedroom dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police say there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle. Detectives are investigating the death as a suicide and an autopsy will be conducted today. The police department will hold a media conference at 11:30 this morning.

See the statement from the Jefferson City police

Jackson had worked for nearly the last four years as Schweich’s communications director. After Schweich’s suicide in February, Jackson was among those who said Schweich was angry at the time of his death about a whispering campaign he believed had been going on in a segment of the state Republican party.

Schweich, a Republican, believed John Hancock, who was elected party chairman in February, had been telling potential fundraisers that Schweich was Jewish, which Schweich’s friends said he believed was an attempt to hurt him among evangelical Christian voters in his bid for the party’s nomination for governor in 2016. Schweich was Episcopalian.

Related stories:

Schweich staffer:  Missouri GOP chair should resign for ‘whispering campaign’

Missouri GOP chairman says ‘whispering campaign’ disproven, ‘tired of talking about’ controversy after Schweich death

Spence Jackson, who was close to Schweich in addition to working for him, posted this photo on his Facebook page two days after Schweich's death.  Jackson accused GOP Chairman John Hancock of being behind an alleged "whispering campaign" that Jackson and others believed contributed to Schweich's decision to take his own life, February 26.

Spence Jackson, who was close to Tom Schweich in addition to working for him, posted this photo of Schweich being sworn-in to a second term as Auditor, on his Facebook page two days after Schweich’s death. Jackson accused GOP Chairman John Hancock of being behind an alleged “whispering campaign” that Jackson and others believed contributed to Schweich’s decision to take his own life, February 26.

Jackson was one of those who publicly called for Hancock’s resignation. Hancock has denied that such a campaign existed. He says he once mistakenly believed Schweich was Jewish and might have said so on occasion, but denies it would have been in an attempt to hurt Schweich.

Prior to working for Schweich, Jackson had worked as the communications director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development under then-governor Matt Blunt as well as the communications director for Blunt’s office in 2005 and much of 2006, and for Blunt’s campaign in 2004.

Former governor Blunt released a statement this morning in response to the news of Jackson’s death:

“Melanie and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Spence Jackson who was a good friend for many years. Spence was a gifted communicator who dedicated his talents in public affairs to public service. Over his career he served as chief spokesman for three of Missouri’s statewide offices including that of the governor when I held that post. Spence was hard-working, well-liked and quick-witted. He will truly be missed. We mourn his passing and offer our prayers to his family and friends.”

 

Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead

UPDATES:

Police investigating death of former Schweich spokesman as a suicide

Despite controversy, Tom Schweich spokesman’s death to be investigated like any other

Original story:

Multiple sources are saying that Spence Jackson, the media relations director for the late state auditor Tom Schweich, was found dead in his apartment in Jefferson City on Sunday.

Spence Jackson is the communications director for the State Auditor's Office, where he worked with Auditor Tom Schweich.

Spence Jackson

Jackson’s death is reportedly being investigated as a suicide.

Schweich committed suicide February 26 at his home in Clayton. Friends and colleagues, including Jackson, said Schweich was angry about an alleged “whispering campaign” among other Republicans saying Schweich was Jewish, that Schweich believed was an effort to hurt him in the race for the Republican nomination for governor. Jackson was one of those in the Republican party who accused Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock of being behind that effort, and called for his resignation.

In addition to being on Schweich’s staff for nearly four years, Jackson was close to Schweich.

More information about Jackson’s apparent death is anticipated later this morning.

Before taking the job working for Schweich in the auditor’s office in May, 2011, Jackson had worked as the communications director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development under then-governor Matt Blunt as well as the communications director for Blunt’s office in 2005 and much of 2006, and for Blunt’s campaign in 2004.