After Missouri auditor kills himself, his spokesman is found dead

Spokesman to late Missouri auditor kills himself a month after boss' death

The media director for late Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich was found dead Sunday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Spence Jackson, 45, was found in his Jefferson City, Mo., apartment by police who were sent there after friends and family were unable to contact him. Evidence at the scene did not show any signs of forced entry or a struggle, Jefferson City police Capt. Doug Shoemaker said in a statement.

Police continue to investigate the case as a suicide, although further information is needed to eliminate other possible causes of death, Shoemaker said. An autopsy was planned for Monday.

Jackson's death came about a month after Schweich shot himself on Feb. 26 at his home in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton. 

Schweich's suicide took place only moments after he had set up an interview with the Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, according to those news organizations.

At the time, the Post-Dispatch said Schweich had confided to Tony Messenger, the paper's editorial page editor, that he believed that John Hancock, the newly elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, was spreading false information that Schweich was Jewish. Hancock has denied the allegation. 

Schweich's grandfather was Jewish, but the late auditor was a member of the Church of St. Michael & St. George, an Episcopal congregation in Clayton.

Schweich had announced plans to run for governor of Missouri in 2016. After the auditor's death, Jackson called for Hancock's resignation.

Police in Jefferson City and Clayton have been in contact as they investigate Jackson’s suicide, law enforcement officials said at a news conference Monday. Several items were removed from Jackson’s apartment, though law enforcement officials declined to elaborate. 

On Monday, Hancock used Twitter to offer condolences in the wake of Jackson's death. "Tragic news this morning," Hancock wrote. "My heart goes out to Spence Jackson's friends and family. Very, very sad."

Former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, whom Jackson worked for at one time, issued a statement calling him a “gifted communicator.”

“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,” Blunt said. “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.”

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


9:58 a.m.: This story was updated with information about the investigation and with comments from former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and John Hancock.

It was first published at 9:27 a.m.