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article imageTrick-or-treaters find man who committed suicide

By Kim I. Hartman     Oct 29, 2010 in World
York - Children trick-or-treating Thursday at a Newberry Township mobile-home park just outside of York, Pennsylvania had the fright of their lives when they discovered a dead man's body when going door-to door- he had committed suicide on his front stoop.
"I'm sure it was very upsetting to the children who saw him -- and to their families," Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder said. "To me, it's something they're probably going to remember for the rest of their lives. I wish an adult would have found him before the kids did."
Police were called to a trailer, located at Lot 113 of the Conewago Valley Mobile Home Park, at 800 York Road, about 6:20 p.m. after the trick-or-treating children found the man and reported it to a neighbor, Snyder said.
The man used a handgun to fatally shoot himself, the chief said; it appeared it was a head wound."We don't know when he committed suicide," Snyder said, or how long the man was lying on his stoop, according to a report in the York Dispatch.
"I'm confused as to why no one during the day saw it," he said. "I assume people thought he was a (Halloween) decoration. The way he was lying there, you wouldn't have known if he was just taking a nap or if he was a decoration."
Children, dressed for Halloween, who were trick-or-treating in the mobile home park, made their way to his door on their rounds and found the lifeless body. Upon closer inspection they realized he was someone they knew, who was now dead on the porch, prompting the young kids to run for their life.
Officers responding to the scene quickly covered the man's body with a sheet and blocked off the area of his home from other trick-or-treaters, Chief Snyder said.
"He was very ill ... and he didn't want to go to a hospital or a (nursing) home," Snyder said. "I just wish he'd have done it somewhere else. When people commit suicide, they don't think about the people around them -- they only think about themselves. It's one of the most selfish things you can do."
There was only a small amount of blood visible at the scene, the chief said; the man wasn't really visible from the street so it's likely not too many children saw him.
"Don't get me wrong -- it's still not a good thing for children to see," he said.
The handgun was still on the stoop, half hidden between the man's legs, according to Snyder. "Unless you looked for it, you wouldn't have seen it," he said.
Snyder said the man lived alone and, based on the inside of his home, was a very clean, tidy person. That might have contributed to the man's decision not to kill himself inside his trailer, the chief said.
Snyder said because the man was found shortly after trick-or-treat started, it limited the number of children exposed to the scene.
"That's some consolation," he said, adding that officers spoke with the children who did witness the suicide scene. "We did our best to talk to the children," Snyder said. "It was bad timing all around."
The deceased, who's identity has not been released by the Newberry Police, was 68 years old, according to the York County Coroner's Office. At this time police say no autopsy is planned.
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