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Cops: Mo. auditor spokesman dead in apparent suicide

David Lieb
Associated Press

Jefferson City, Mo. — The spokesman for the Missouri auditor’s office has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in what police described Monday as an apparent suicide. The death comes about a month after the state auditor also killed himself.

Robert “Spence” Jackson was found dead Sunday evening in his home in Jefferson City after police responded to a well-being check, the Jefferson City Police Department said in a written statement. Police said they are investigating the case as a suicide.

Jackson’s boss, Auditor Tom Schweich, fatally shot himself on Feb. 26 at his home in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton in what police also have described as a suicide.

Jackson, 45, had remained as the auditor’s office spokesman after Schweich’s death. He also previously served as a spokesman for former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, who issued a written statement on Monday saying he was saddened to learn of his friend’s death.

“Spence was a gifted communicator who dedicated his talents in public affairs to public service,” Blunt said. “Spence was hard-working, well-liked and quick-witted.”

Schweich’s death has roiled the Missouri Republican Party as it prepares for an important 2016 election that will feature contests for president, U.S. Senate, governor and most of Missouri’s other statewide executive offices.

Just minutes before Schweich’s death, Schweich had told an Associated Press reporter that he wanted to go public with allegations that the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock, had been telling people last year that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich, who was Christian, said he perceived the remarks to be part of an anti-Semitic whispering campaign against him.

Jackson was among the first to suggest after Schweich’s funeral that Hancock should resign.

Hancock has remained on the job. He has denied making anti-Semitic remarks, though he has said it’s possible he might have told some people that Schweich was Jewish because he mistakenly believed that to be true.

Police said they responded to a call to Jackson’s apartment a little after 7 p.m. Sunday after one of Jackson’s family members said he had been unresponsive to phone calls.

A property manager provided a key to police officers, who found Jackson dead in his bedroom from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. Police said there was no physical evidence of a forced entry or struggle, but that an autopsy is planned for Monday and detectives are continuing to investigate the case.