After Shooting Himself 5 Times Didn't Work, He Just Jumped Off Bridge
Man Shot Himself 5 times, Then Jumped
Missouri - A man whose body was pulled from the Mississippi River on Sunday had shot himself five times with a .22-caliber handgun before driving from his Godfrey home to the Clark Bridge in Alton and fatally throwing himself into the waters below, authorities said.
Franklin E. Carver, 67, of the 2700 block of Greenwood Lane, shot himself five times - three times in the head and twice in the chest - inside his home Wednesday, but none of the shots was immediately fatal, authorities said. Carver then got into his customized van and drove 10 minutes to the Clark Bridge, where he parked in the bicycle lane and jumped off the south side of the bridge as a frantic motorist called 911 from a cell phone.
"This is probably the most unusual suicide case I've ever seen in my career," said Lt. David Hayes of the Alton Police Department. "It's a bizarre case; it really is."
The Madison County coroner said Monday that preliminary autopsy results indicate Carver, who had several convictions, died of drowning. During the autopsy, performed Sunday, doctors pulled five small-caliber bullets that had lodged in Carver's body. The three shots to the head did not penetrate the skull, while one shot to the chest missed vital organs and the other struck the liver.
A .22-caliber handgun that appeared to match the wounds was found in a vehicle outside Carver's home, authorities said, but ballistic tests that could confirm a match will not be ready for three weeks.
Police said they learned about the bullet wounds in Carver's body after Sunday's autopsy, but quickly ruled out homicide or the remote possibility that Carver may have been shot after he drowned.
"His son said that he had some issues in the past," Hayes said. "He was despondent and indicated there were suicidal tendencies. It's a legitimate suicide case."
However, Hayes said he could not elaborate on evidence pointing to suicide, pending a coroner jury's final determination on the cause and manner of Carver's death.
Coroner Stephen P. Nonn explained Monday that a .22-caliber gun is not especially powerful. If a bullet hits at an indirect angle or if the shot is weakened by old or compromised ammunition, it's possible that it might not do much physical damage, he said.
He pointed to a shooting 25 years ago when a Madison County man was struck seven times by an assailant with bullets from a .22 and was not killed.
"Twenty-twos are known for that," Nonn said.
Nonn also said that he had seen cases before where an initial suicide attempt failed, but a person persisted and ultimately succeeded. Several years ago a Madison County man cut his wrists, neck, arms and ankle, but when that failed, he sealed himself in a garage with a running car and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
"Once you decide to die," Nonn said, "I guess you're going to do it."
In June, Carver, a machinist for 30 years with the Owens-Illinois machine plant in Godfrey, was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault and five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Prosecutors accused him of having sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl from June 2003 to June 2004.
Carver pleaded guilty in November to one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and was sentenced to 30 months of probation. He had been held for three months at the Madison County Jail, court records show, but was released due to health problems.
In the past 12 years, Carver also had been convicted in Jersey and Madison counties of stalking, domestic battery, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and retail theft.
A funeral for Carver is being held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Gent Funeral Home in Alton.
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