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Monday, October 13th, 2008

St. Henry senior commits suicide

By Margie Wuebker
A 17-year-old St. Henry High School senior died Sunday morning at his home, the victim of an apparent suicide.
Ryan A. Weitzel was found dead shortly before 10 a.m. on the floor of his upstairs bedroom at 5677 state Route 119. Two bottles of prescription drugs - one a painkiller and the other a depression aid - were found on the floor. Mercer County Sheriff's Office personnel reportedly located a .22-caliber handgun laying beneath the young man and what appeared to be a bullet wound to the head.
His mother, Marge Weitzel, placed a call to 911 at 9:58 a.m. to report her son had committed suicide. In response to questions from the dispatcher, she assumed he had ingested pills given the presence of pill containers in the room.
"We do not know at this point whether he took any pills," Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey told The Daily Standard this morning. "Toxicology tests performed as part of an autopsy at the Montgomery County Coroner's Office should answer our questions in that regard."
Weitzel had a cast on his right arm in the wake of an earlier fracture and a brother told authorities the doctor had prescribed a painkiller.
He reportedly had gone out Saturday night but family members told deputies they did not hear him come home and no one was awakened by a gunshot. The sheriff's office report indicated the incident likely took place between 1:25 and 1:45 a.m. A family member checking to see why the young man was not up reportedly made the discovery Sunday morning.
Weitzel had been dealing with depression issues, Grey said. He left no note, but text messages found on his cell phone lead authorities to conclude the gunshot wound to the head was self-inflicted, Grey added.
Counselors are on hand today at the high school media center providing support for grieving students. Fort Recovery and Marion Local each sent two counselors to assist St. Henry's three-member staff.
Principal Frank Griesdorn called the 93-member senior class closely knit. Most of the seniors gathered during first period to exchange stories from better days with tears and hugs exchanged frequently, he said.
Weitzel was an active member of the school's FFA chapter, having served as an officer last year and having participated in numerous competitions. Teacher and FFA adviser Matt Pleiman lauded the youth's efforts in three words - "he was topnotch," Griesdorn said this morning.
Plans for services as well as attendance at the funeral Mass have not been completed as school officials await word from the Weitzel family regarding the time and place.
Arrangements are pending at Brockman-Boeckman Funeral Home in Fort Recovery.
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