Monday, December 5th, 2011
Man found dead in pond at shrine
Marion teacher facing misdemeanor charge
By Margie Wuebker
MARIA STEIN - A third-grade teacher at Marion Local Elementary School was found dead Saturday morning, a day after being charged with one count of sexual imposition.
Paul Mizer, 56, 2130 St. Johns Road, was found dead about 10:30 a.m. in the pond at the Maria Stein Spiritual Center, the victim of an apparent suicide.
His wife, Penny, contacted the Mercer County Sheriff's Office to report he had left the house on foot between 4:30 and 5 a.m. The report touched off a search with deputies using a K-9 unit from the Celina Police Department to check local school buildings, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and the Spiritual Center - places he was known to frequent.
Sheriff Jeff Grey said in a press release that Mizer had been distraught after having been arrested by deputies Friday. The third-degree misdemeanor charge alleged he had contact with a minor that was sexual in nature. Officials believe the incident did not occur at school or on school property.
Mizer was transported to the Mercer County Detention Center and released after his wife posted 10 percent of the $750 fine.
He had been a teacher for 35 years, working at Marion Local for 28. He also served as band director for 16 years.
Elementary principal Karen Post spoke to Mizer's class this morning. Counselors and retired Marion Local teachers will be available to help students cope with the situation.
"The help and support of our community and the surrounding school districts are overwhelming and our district is very thankful during this difficult time," superintendent Michael Pohlman posted this morning on the school's website. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Mizer family."
A substitute teacher has been brought in to take over his class, and the board of education is expected to discuss a more permanent solution at a regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday night.
Mizer served as organist and music director at the Maria Stein church and was a member of the American Music Guild of Organists. He and his wife researched and worked on a comprehensive book published for the 175th anniversary of the church earlier this year.
Hogenkamp Funeral Home, Minster, is handling arrangements.