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.
“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.
“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.