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Murfreesboro child abuse suspect commits suicide

12-9-2009 Tennessee:

A newly employed pediatric nurse who was soon to be arrested and charged with child sexual abuse reportedly killed himself Thursday by jumping from a medical office building in Nashville, police reported.

Elliot Lash, 26, of Peachtree Street in Murfreesboro, jumped from the top of his workplace as Murfreesboro Police Detective Tommy Roberts worked to arrest him on sex charges, according to a Murfreesboro Police incident report.

The man's wife reported her husband to police after she found a "disturbing video" on a home laptop, according to a report filed by Roberts.

The video reportedly showed Elliot Lash inappropriately touching a child, whose age was redacted in a police report, according to the police report. The child was shown on the camera naked.

Lash's wife, who admitted she'd had trouble in her marriage for the past six years, had recently moved back to her mother's home when she found the video file on a laptop computer her husband had used.

She contacted police in reference to the video. Less than halfway through the material, Murfreesboro Police Officer Jason Harding knew, "I had watched enough to know that a detective was needed from that point."

Detective Roberts took over the investigation at that point. During his investigation he confiscated three computers belonging to Elliot Lash.

"Investigators found hundreds of images and video on the three computers," said Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans. "They've been sent to the TBI for forensic analysis. Investigators want to see if these are downloaded images or images he may have taken himself."

Roberts later obtained warrants for sexual exploitation of a minor and sexual battery and contacted Lash by phone.

"I asked him to come in and speak with me," Roberts said. "I went by his place of employment, St. Thomas Medical Group, Pediatrics (Dr. Timothy Mangrum) and was told he did not show up for work."

Later that same day, Roberts received a call from Brent Horst, Lash's attorney. Horst told the detective he would tell Lash to turn himself in, but was not sure that he would.

That same night I received a call from Metro Detective Steven Jolly ... (who) stated it appeared Lash had committed suicide by jumping off a building," Roberts reported.

Evans said investigators may, at some point, work in concert with the Metro Nashville Police Department on the case.

"We're looking to see if there are other people involved in the trade of these materials and to see if we can identify more victims, as his tenure in the medical field was always as a pediatric nurse," Evans said. "If the evidence reveals those are pictures he took, we would ask Nashville to get involved in the investigation, since the doctor's office he worked at is located in Nashville."

However, Chief Operating Officer Bill Grayson of Nashville Healthcare Solutions, said Lash had only worked for St. Thomas Medical Group for "six days" and had very little access to patients of Mangrum.

The medical group is not owned or operated by Saint Thomas Health Services, which owns Saint Thomas Hospital and Middle Tennessee Medical Center. The medical group's office building is attached to Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville and doctors with the medical group have privileges to practice at the hospital.

"To the best of our knowledge, he was never alone and never unsupervised in a patient room," Grayson said. "We hope that ... quashes any nervousness about anyone thinking he committed any impropriety here."

Grayson added that the medical practice hired Lash because he had no marks on his criminal background, he passed a drug screen and he had good references.

"His (criminal) background was completely negative (for any charges)," Grayson said.

A statement released by Grayson on behalf of St. Thomas Medical Group says: "We are saddened to acknowledge the tragic death of one of our employees on December 3, 2009. Elliot Lash was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and had dedicated his life to nursing.

"Mr. Lash became an employee of (the St. Thomas Medical Group) on November 23, 2009, was still in training, and in the short time we knew him was a very personable co-worker," the release reads. "This tragic incident has been a shock for our staff and our patients, and we wish Mr. Lash's family and friends solemn condolences at this difficult time."

Kristen Helm with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said she could not comment on any evidence being processed by the TBI. ..Source.. by MARK BELL • GANNETT TENNESSEE

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