A San Bernardino police officer who reported his 4-year-old foster daughter kidnaped, but then was identified as the chief suspect in her disappearance and possible slaying, hanged himself in the garage of his mother-in-law's Colton home Friday night, authorities said.
Craig Anthony Armstrong, 29, was found hanging from a dog leash by his wife, Tamara, a nurse, who tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive him, Colton Police Officer Paul DeJong said.
The whereabouts of the couple's foster daughter, Alicia, whom they were in the process of adopting, remained unknown. Armstrong had reported the girl missing during a July 28 shopping trip to a mall in San Bernardino, but after two weeks of investigation "he was our chief suspect," San Bernardino Police Lt. Steve Jarvis said.
Police received a call from a neighbor at 5:41 p.m. Friday reporting a "woman screaming" at the home of Tamara Armstrong's mother. They arrived to find Tamara Armstrong "despondent and crying. Their telephone was apparently out," DeJong said. Detectives took Armstrong's body to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Authorities said suicide notes were found, but did not give clues to the girl's fate.
Armstrong, a motorcycle officer, was placed on administrative leave with pay Aug. 9. San Bernardino police issued a statement Thursday saying, "Detectives report that enough evidence has been analyzed to point to the Armstrongs as suspects in Alicia's disappearance, although they also stress they are continuing to examine all areas of the investigation."
The girl, who turned 4 on Aug. 5, had been with the couple for 1 1/2 months before Armstrong told authorities she vanished when he briefly turned away from her. Since then, police have searched the Armstrong home and family vehicles, then a mountain cabin in the Big Bear area owned by their relatives. Police said they suspected that the girl was dead and were preparing to search the surrounding mountain areas.
The Armstrongs were also in the process of adopting Alicia's 18-month-old sister. Although adoption officials would not comment, the younger child apparently has been removed from their custody.
"We are still classifying it as a kidnaping and possible homicide," San Bernardino police Sgt. Sherrie Figueroa said.