Carter County, Mo., sheriff killed by bullet from his own gun

Monday, October 20, 2008

VAN BUREN, Mo. — Carter County Sheriff Greg Melton died Thursday night from a bullet from his own gun.

"One shell was expended from the sheriff's .357 magnum revolver," Carter County Coroner Dennis McSpadden said Saturday. "We are still waiting for gunshot residue tests to come back."

The path of the bullet that caused Melton's death was determined during an autopsy Friday evening.

McSpadden said the autopsy "confirmed the contact wound was under his chin with the bullet exiting through the top of his head."

The autopsy was conducted by Dr. Michael Zaricor at the Farmington, Mo., hospital.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop G was notified at 8:16 p.m. Thursday that Melton was found in his garage by his wife, according to Sgt. Marty Elmore, public information officer for Troop G.

Melton, 47, a Grandin Democrat, had served as sheriff for nearly eight years. He was seeking re-election to his third term in the Nov. 4 general election. His name will remain on the ballots because it is too late to remove it.

By Missouri law, the coroner becomes the acting sheriff until an appointment is made by the Carter County Commission.

"I called an emergency meeting of the commission. It was posted by County Clerk Becky Gibbs," Presiding Commissioner Gene Oakley said Saturday. "We met Friday night in a closed session at my house."

Oakley and Associate Commissioners Eddie Ballard and Lynn Murdick met "with a person we wanted to hire with some conditions."

It was decided Oakley would talk more with the individual Saturday and his selection would be announced at 9 a.m. today when he was to be sworn in at the Carter County Courthouse.

"The interim sheriff will serve from Monday until midnight on Dec. 31," Oakley said.

If Republican Tommy Adams of Ellsinore is elected sheriff on Nov. 4, he will become the new sheriff on Jan. 1.

Oakley said he is still consulting with state election officials about what will happen if Melton receives the most votes.

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