Chicago police: No homicide in schools chief death

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2009 9:03 PM

Chicago police said Wednesday that tests have revealed gunshot residue on the hand of Michael Scott _ the strongest evidence yet that the president of the city's school board took his own life.

In a news conference, Superintendent Jody Weis also said police divers recovered Scott's money clip in the Chicago River waters near where Scott's body was found early Monday. Weis said cash and credit cards were in the money clip, leading police to believe Scott was not the victim of robbery.

Weis stopped short of saying police believe Scott committed suicide, but his comments about what the investigation has uncovered _ including evidence that Scott on Sunday afternoon drove directly to the area where his body was found the next day _ clearly point in that direction. Weis stressed the investigation continues.

"I don't want to make any judgment until we have all the facts," Weis said.

Significantly, Weis also said police found no sign anyone was with Scott in the area where he was found, though he said investigators were still analyzing security video. Perhaps the strongest suggestion that police believe Scott's death was a suicide came when Weis was asked if they have any explanation for Scott's death.

"That unfortunately is a question that probably only Michael would know (the answer to)," Weis said.

The evidence about the gunshot residue bolsters the Cook County medical examiner's office conclusion Scott committed suicide, particularly because residue was found on the left hand of the left-handed Scott. Earlier, Weis refused to rule out homicide and made statements that prompted the medical examiner's office to reiterate the ruling in a news conference.

Weis said the gun found under Scott's body was registered to Scott and that he purchased it in 1981. But, Weis said, tests to determine if that was the gun that killed Scott had yet to be completed.

Police have gone over Scott's cell phone records and have spoken with those who he talked with on the phone and Weis said nothing was out of the ordinary in those conversations. Adding to the mystery of why Scott would have killed himself, Weis said investigators talked to family members and have no information Scott suffered physical illness.

Police said Scott left a visit at his sister's assisted living facility in Chicago at 4:15 p.m. Sunday and apparently drove directly to the spot on the Chicago River where his vehicle was located. Weis said witnesses saw the vehicle Sunday at 4:50 p.m., again at 6:30 p.m. and then again at 10:30 p.m.

Sometime after midnight Monday, police gave the vehicle a parking ticket, Weis said.

Earlier Wednesday, more than a dozen Chicago ministers and community activists said there is no way Scott willingly pressed a 380-caliber handgun to his head and pulled the trigger.

They gathered at a church on the city's West Side, some wiping away tears, and said they don't care that the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office has called Scott's death a suicide. They still want a full investigation.

They want the police to continue investigating, and they want state and federal authorities to conduct their own inquiries.

"We want answers and we want to know," said the Rev. George Henderson, a West Side pastor.

None of the ministers or activists had any answers about why anyone would want to harm Scott. Nor do they have any idea what he was doing in the dark spot along the Chicago River.

Some described how Scott told friends a couple weeks ago that he was worried about his children as they dealt with the recent death of their mother, his ex-wife.

"Michael would not put his children through the agony of him killing himself while they were mourning their mother," community activist Harold Davis said.