‘Post-Dispatch’ editor describes getting Schweich’s possible last message

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CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) - A St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor received one of Tom Schweich’s last messages. Editorial editor Tony Messenger saw the call come in but let it go to voicemail because he was speaking at a kids’ career day. By the time he coordinated the meeting Schweich wanted, he heard the tragic news of the auditor’s apparent suicide.

‘'I have no idea why he killed himself, but a statewide elected official killed himself and I was one of the last people he reached out to,” Messenger said. ‘‘I’m going to tell people what I know. I think that’s my responsibility as a journalist.”

Messenger didn’t think Schweich sounded unusual in his voicemail. The call came in at 9:41 am. The 911 call reporting a possible suicide was at 9:48 a.m.

‘‘That’s the part of my brain that I’m trying to ignore, because it doesn’t do any good to speculate what was going on. My assumption is that something happened in those seven minutes, because it doesn`t make sense otherwise,” Messenger said. ‘‘You said to come to the house and then immediately after you make that decision, you shoot yourself. I have a hard time understanding that.”

In the voicemail, Schweich hinted about what they’d talk about. You can hear Schweich saying, ‘'To me this is more of a religion story than a politics story.”

Messenger said he’d discussed it with Schweich earlier.

‘'I think he was offended by what he thought was anti-Semitism and standing up for the pride of his family history, letting people know that he’s an Episcopalian and this is what his faith is, and if you want to talk about it, at least get it right,' Messenger said.

On the voicemail message, you can hear Schweich say, ‘'I would give a brief prepared statement, which we would videotape, and then I could answer questions from your reporter.”

‘'The thought that any of us can figure out or divine what it was that caused a man to kill himself in that moment is a dangerous path to go down,” Messenger said.

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