Sheriff: Man's death likely suicide

Published 12:37 pm Monday, October 20, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell- news editor
Escambia County Sheriffs officials are continuing an investigation into what is believed to be the suicide of a Battle Creek, Mich. man last week.
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said full autopsy reports have not been released to his office, however preliminary reports have been made by the Department of Forensic Sciences in Mobile.
Chief Deputy John Gleaton said the body of the victim was discovered when officers responded to a report of a vandalized vehicle off Country Road 4 Oct. 9.
Claude VanDusen's body was discovered hanging from a tree in a wooded area near an area referred to as Parker Bridge on County Road 4, Gleaton said.
Although an exact cause of death has not been revealed, Gleaton said the incident appears to be a suicide.
Gleaton said the call that led to the discovery of VanDusen's body came from a fisherman in the area of the Parker Bridge location.
Gleaton said the delay in releasing information to the public concerning the discovery involved notification of the family. “It took a little time to determine the identity of the victim,” Gleaton said. “Then of course we had to make arrangements to let the VanDusen's family know what we had found.”
VanDusen was last seen in his hometown of Battle Creek Oct. 1, according to officials there. Reports stated he had cashed a payroll check that morning and had purchased gasoline before making contact with a co-worker that same day.
VanDusen's wife, nor officials in Michigan, has been able to reveal a connection with anyone in Alabama.
Smith said VanDusen's wife, Janet, said her husband might have been in Alabama for a racing event.
The investigation into the death of VanDusen will continue until full autopsy results are received.