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Suspect commits suicide

9-3-2011 Colorado:

Police found the body of Duane A. Smith, 46, of Fountain on Phantom Canyon Road.

CANON CITY — Police confirmed a child sex assault suspect was found dead Thursday after he failed to show for an interview with authorities on Wednesday.

Duane A. Smith, 46, had just been suspended from his job as a Junior ROTC instructor at Canon City High School pending a police investigation into his alleged relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

"Investigators believe that Smith took his own life after he missed a scheduled interview with investigators about his relationship with the student. Smith failed to return home after his initial contact with police and authorities feared that he may become suicidal," said Capt. Allen Cooper of the Canon City Police Department.

Dr. Dorothy Twellman, Fremont county coroner, said Smith died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found by a hiker about 1 p.m. Thursday inside his red Pontiac Grand Am on a turnout along Fremont County Road 67, known as the Phantom Canyon Road.

A note was also located in the vehicle, Cooper said.

Before Smith had been found, a $25,000 arrest warrant was issued accusing him of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.

Smith had worked as an ROTC instructor at the high school for the past two years, said Superintendent of Canon City Schools Robin Gooldy in a letter issued Thursday to parents of Canon City High School students.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit authored by Canon Police Detective Derek Irvine, the sister of the 16-year-old student victim reported to a school official that her sister admitted to cheating on her boyfriend.

"She could not tell who she was cheating on her boyfriend with, as he was too old, and he would get in trouble, according to a summarization of a police interview with the sister. However, under pressure when asked if the older man was Smith, the victim admitted to her sister that it was.

The victim told her sister that the two had sex twice in the supply closet in the Canon City High School ROTC room and twice in the woods when she went camping with Smith and his family, according to the affidavit. The victim reportedly told her sister the two had sex three more times between Aug. 10 and Saturday.

The affidavit indicated Smith allegedly would pick up the victim to take her to school early in the morning for drill team practice and that arrangement had been occurring "since the second semester of last year." The affidavit also indicated that Smith offered to tutor the victim and helped her improve, "really bad math grades," to a B average.

The affidavit also indicated the victim admitted to the relationship during a pre-text phone call between her and a friend on Sunday.

The victim later told police that she and Smith did not have sex more than three times but he asked her not to tell anyone about the relationship because he would get in trouble. She also told police that she loved Smith and believed he loved her, according to the affidavit. ..Source.. by TRACY HARMON

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