A man whose wife disappeared in 1998 has died by suicide just as the cold case received renewed attention.
Jim Sweeten, 79, called the police Texas to say that he would take his own life. Police found him dead at his home in a mobile home park in Welasco, about three miles from the Mexican border, on Wednesday. according to Fox 23.
Authorities said he was found in a shed with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The discovery, made just two days after his wife disappeared 25 years ago, was again in the news when police found a barrel in a body of water near the home in Oklahoma where they had lived until she disappeared.
Peggy Sweeten, a special education teacher, was 52 when she disappeared.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office in Oklahoma wrote on Facebook that “law enforcement returned to the former Sweeten home on Monday of this week to conduct an underwater search and retrieve a metal barrel that was discovered a few weeks ago that could possibly have been an incinerator that was marked that he was missing around the same time Peggy was. No human remains were found. This is a cold case that has been under active investigation.”
When she disappeared, Mr Sweeten claimed she had left with a lover, but no evidence was found to support this theory, and he soon stopped cooperating with the investigation.
He refused attempts to conduct a search of the property or participate in a polygraph test.
When questioned in 2011, Sweeten told officers he thought “he should consult an attorney,” according to Valley Central.
A detective wrote in a search warrant application that Mr. Sweeten “appeared to be deceptive and evasive” and he “appeared to be trying to find out how far the investigation had gone and what (the investigator) knows and what direction the investigation was going.”
Police assumed Sweeten was dead as the years passed after her disappearance. She was last seen on January 13, 1998.
Police shared concerns with local media that Sweeten may kill himself or flee to Mexico as the investigation progresses, according to Fox 23.
Mr. Sweeten was a former Kansas superintendent who had had an affair with a teacher from another district, according to the 2011 ruling. He filed for divorce just weeks after Ms Sweeten disappeared.
He claimed to police that when he returned from a conference, Sweeten had left him a note to say she was leaving him, but all her belongings, including her car, clothes and personal mementos, were left behind. There was no indication that she planned to leave.
Mr Sweeten told police his wife had met a man online, but she never used email and had no email address.