Over the past year, there had been a perplexing spike in suicide events involving bankers, especially those of Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan. Overnight, the first prominent public sector suicide shook the state of Missouri when its state auditor Tom Schweich died in St. Louis in what is said to be an apparent suicide, at the age of 54, around 9:48 am on Thursday, when Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy said paramedics responded to an emergency call from his home. Schweich was then taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound.
The Police chief was quoted by Kansascity.com, who said that “What we know at this point suggests an apparent suicide.”
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich announced his candidacy for governor in January in St. Louis
As reported by the local newspaper, Murphy declined to say if authorities found a note or any communication from Schweich. He said family members are cooperating with the investigation. He would not disclose specifics about the weapon involved in the shooting or where Schweich was wounded. At least one family member — believed to be Schweich’s wife — was at home at the time of the incident.
On the surface nothing strange, yet what is peculiar about the suicide theory is that as further reported, "Schweich began the day by calling The Associated Press and St. Louis Post-Dispatch to invite reporters to his home in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton for a 2:30 p.m. interview. He apparently called both news organizations minutes before the 911 call was placed from his home."
Needless to say, a strange sequence of events for a person who was just preparing to take his life just minutes later.
The topic of that interview, according to the editors of the Post-Dispatch, was to be Schweich’s belief that John Hancock, the recently elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, had spread rumors about him.
Schweich’s office in Jefferson City released a routine audit of the Department of Corrections at 10 a.m. Then at 11:18 a.m., the auditor’s office said in a statement that Schweich had been taken to a hospital for “a medical situation.”
Gov. Jay Nixon, well-known across the country after the St. Louis riots from last summer, canceled a St. Louis appearance following that announcement as concern for Schweich’s condition spread quickly across Missouri.
Schweich’s office confirmed his death at 1:30 p.m. “It is with great sadness that I confirm the passing of Missouri state Auditor Tom Schweich today,” spokesman Spence Jackson said in an email. “Please keep in mind his wife Kathy and two children.”
Nixon ordered state flags to fly at half-staff, calling Schweich “a brilliant, devoted and accomplished public servant who dedicated his career to making Missouri and the world a better place.”
What adds to the mystery is that Schweich, who was elected as state auditor in 2010 and was re-elected without Democratic opposition last November, had a bright future to look forward to: Last month he announced his candidacy for governor in 2016.
"In recent weeks, however, the race for governor had turned increasingly rough. Schweich framed his campaign around the idea that corruption was rampant in Jefferson City — and he pointed to his rival for the GOP nomination as the prime example. He accused Hanaway of being bought and paid for by conservative megadonor Rex Sinquefield, who has given roughly $1 million to her campaign.
Last weekend, as Republicans gathered in Kansas City for the Republican Party’s annual conference, a radio ad hit the airwaves attacking Schweich as a weak candidate who could be “easily confused for the deputy sheriff of Mayberry.” The ad was paid for by a political action committee called Citizens for Fairness in Missouri. Schweich’s spokesman said the ad had upset the auditor.
The ad was paid for by a political action committee called Citizens for Fairness in Missouri. Schweich’s spokesman said the ad had upset the auditor.
Then things get downright bizarre:
This week, rumors swirled around the Missouri Capitol that Schweich planned to call a press conference to accuse Hancock, the newly elected chairman of the Missouri GOP, of making anti-Semitic remarks and spreading rumors that Schweich is Jewish.
Schweich told a Post-Dispatch editor that he was Episcopalian with a Jewish grandfather and suspected references were made to his Jewish heritage to damage his standing with Republicans in the primary for governor. Schweich had made similar complaints to the AP.
Whether it was the topic of Schweich's heritage that disturbed the auditor so much, or something else - perhaps something related to his job as auditor of a state - that was the reason for his premature death we will never know. Just as well will surely never know if, following the autopsy, foul play is discovered.