|Gonzales Was Originally From Calhoun County, Attending CCHS|
By Justin D. Anderson
An internal State Police probe has concluded marital problems were at the root of a trooper's suicide near Hurricane last month.
Cpl. Marlo Gonzales, 39, a 13-year veteran of the State Police left a note in his cruiser addressed to his wife, Angel, which cited unspecified marital issues as the reason he was killing himself, according to an abridged version of an investigation report released today.
Gonzales' in-laws found him dead in his cruiser outside their home on Sycamore Road on July 18. The trooper was still in his uniform and apparently used his service revolver to fatally shoot himself in the chest, authorities said.
A gold wedding band, a poem titled "Forever" and $18 in cash was found wrapped in a three-page suicide note attached to a clipboard in Gonzales' cruiser, the investigation report said. This note alluded to a biblical psalm that talks about the blessings of a wife and children.
A paperback bible also was found in Gonzales' cruiser, and the verses of the psalm were circled.
Another suicide note written in a spiral notebook was recovered from the Gonzales home, the report said. It contained a list of songs Gonzales wanted played at his funeral.
A cassette recording Gonzales made nine days before his suicide featured the trooper sending a message to his wife talking about his suicidal thoughts and funeral arrangements. The report says Gonzales was crying so much while making the recording that at some points on the tape he was inaudible.
The report said Gonzales made the recording while sitting in his cruiser because the tape contains background noise including radio communications and the chimes made when the car's doors open.
Gonzales had left a note in the past that indicated he was troubled, the report said. It stated he had written a note in 2006 that addressed his suicidal thoughts. At that time, the trooper was living with a co-worker and her husband because he and his wife were going through a rocky time in their relationship, the report said.
In the wake of his death, critics that included some state troopers blamed State Police administrators for not getting Gonzales the help he needed. Administrators were accused of being aloof when it came to helping troopers deal with their personal problems.
Gov. Joe Manchin then ordered state officials to study the issue of police suicides to determine if anything in State Police policy could change to better address trooper stress.
But administrators contended Gonzales was typically a jovial person and gave no indication that anything was wrong prior to his suicide.
Gonzales was the second state trooper to commit suicide since 1999.
The report details that Gonzales expressed concern and dissatisfaction regarding his recent transfer to the South Charleston detachment from the Clay detachment, where he'd been stationed since May 2006. He was temporarily transferred to South Charleston in June.
Gonzales' father in-law Frank McCallister told investigators he'd met with Gonzales earlier on the day of his death near the McCallister home. Gonzales said he was being treated unfairly by his superiors and was unsatisfied about being assigned to South Charleston.
"I can't go on the way that I'm going on," McCallister said Gonzales told him.
Gonzales said he'd stopped taking his anti-depressant medication about four days before because it made him feel like a "zombie," McCallister said. But when he didn't take the medicine, Gonzales said he felt like he "could rip a tree out of the ground," according to the report.
A former co-worker at the Winfield detachment, Brandy Beller, said she spoke with Gonzales on the day of the incident. She said he talked about his marital problems. He told her his wife didn't trust him, the report said.
During a second conversation with Beller, Gonzales told her he'd left Angel a note for her to call him, wondering if "there was any hope for them."
He also talked about suicide, Beller said. He "hoped everybody remembered him as a good trooper." Beller said this kind of talk from Gonzales was "typical when he was speaking of his marital problems."
State Police Supt. Dave Lemmon requested interviews be conducted with all members of the Clay, Winfield and South Charleston detachments after he became aware of a recording Gonzales secretly made while stationed at Clay.
Gonzales apparently wanted a transfer out of the Clay detachment shortly after he arrived there, the report said. Investigators got a copy of the tape from McCallister and also obtained a copy of a note Gonzales wrote to Angel instructing her to turn the tape over to a lawyer for a possible lawsuit.
But the tape didn't contain anything that piqued investigators' interest. The conversation was common and routine, the report said.
"At no time were any inappropriate comments made by either party" audible on the tape, the report concluded.
The interviews with other members of the detachments turned up nothing notable, investigators said.
A family member of Gonzales had mentioned that the trooper had asked for and been denied a leave of absence from work, the report said. Gonzales' ex-wife, Dee Dee Raines, told one of Gonzales' superiors that he suffered from bi-polar disorder, marked by extreme emotional ups and downs.
The day before his death, one of Gonzales' superiors overheard him asking how many leave days he could take.
The supervisor, Sgt. C.A. Bolland, said he could take 14 days off in a row. Bolland said Gonzales didn't request any time off at that time, though.
Another colleague said he'd spoken to Gonzales on two occasions the day he died. Gonzales seemed calm and relaxed, asking how long he had to work to be vested in his retirement.