State and local officials released more details today about the death of a Grinnell College student found dead in the swimming poll of the Grinnell Country club Monday. Nineteen-year-old Paul Shuman-Moore had been missing since September 25th of last year.
Grinnell Police Chief Jodi Matherly says they’ve ruled Shuman-Moore committed suicide by drowning. Matherly says there’s "absolutely no indication of evidence that Mr. Shuman-Moore was a victim of a homicide. Rather, all indications are that he was a talented, well-liked, yet troubled young man who took his own life." Matherly says there were questions about Shuman-Moore’s cause of death because of reports his hands and legs were bound.
Matherly says Shuman-Moore’s hands and legs were discovered loosely wrapped in duct tape, but all examinations show that the duct tape had been "self applied." Matherly says while this is unusual, it has been seen before in suicides. The body was found under a cover on the pool, but Matherly says the investigation showed Shuman-Moore let himself into the pool.
Matherly says there was a knife found at the scene and there was a slice in the cover of the pool that was not easily visible, so it would not have been difficult to enter the pool. Matherly confirmed there was a suicide note, and says investigators found evidence that Shuman-Moore had researched ways to commit suicide.
Matherly says searchers had checked under the pool cover at least twice but they did not find the body. Matherly says it was "apparently missed", as they had investigators, trained searchers, student volunteers, airplanes and on two occasions, dogs who searched. Matherly says one dog went near the pool but the body was not discovered. "Simply put, it was missed," Matherly says. Matherly says they don’t place blame on anyone, "it’s a fact of life that things can be missed, and it’s a fact of life that it was."
Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation spokesman Jim Saunders says they announced their findings to answer rumors that had circulated about Shuman-Moore’s death. Saunders says: "We do understand and are very aware of how this has impacted the city of Grinnell and the college. But, we want people to rest assured that there is absolutely no reason to believe that this is anything other than what we have reported to you today to be."
Saunders says they understand this is a tragic situation involving someone that was very well liked. The State Medical Examiner’s office says tests were done on the body to determine if any drugs were in Shuman-Moore’s system at the time of his death, but it could take several weeks to get the results of those tests.