'Can't live with myself': Former Caseyville police chief was subject of ATF investigation

News-DemocratJune 24, 2013 

Former Caseyville Police Chief JD Roth sent a despondent text message to his girlfriend before he went into his backyard, put on a helmet, covered his head with a canvas bag and shot himself in the head, according to a police report.

His pre-paid funeral arrangements and will executed on May 30 were on a plastic-covered table nearby.

"Babe, I can't live with myself anymore. See me in every full moon," Roth wrote in a text to his girlfriend, Analiza Cecil. Roth added, "lugat ca lagi na mahal ko!!" which Cecil told the police means "take care of yourself my love" in Taglog. Cecil is from the Philippines.

Roth left no note, but police documents obtained from the Caseyville and Fairview Heights Police Department showed there was an ongoing investigation by the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Department investigation into the police department that Roth headed for 11 years.

The reports were obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Belleville News-Democrat. The Fairview Heights Police Department also released a copy of the 911 call Cecil made after finding Roth dead. Cecil found Roth, 56, in the backyard of his home at 9704 Avalon Drive in Fairview Heights at 10:45 a.m. June 13.

In response to a request for an inventory of firearms held by the Caseyville Police Department, interim Police Chief Frank Moore stated, "The status of other department firearms is part of an ongoing investigation by the ATF. Any information released should come from the ATF."

The federal agency typically does not comment on ongoing investigations. Calls to an ATF spokesman in Chicago were not returned.

After Roth's body was found, "a large sum of money" and multiple guns were discovered inside a safe at Roth's home. Police found 63 guns inside Roth's house, including 19 military-style semi-automatic rifles and carbines, seven less-powerful .22 cal rifles, 22 handguns, seven shotguns and eight large-caliber bolt action rifles. He committed suicide with a shotgun.

Roth operated a home-based business called Special Order Firearms.

Merrilee Roth told Fairview Heights Police Officer Tony Flinn that her brother had been down lately and the "ongoing federal investigation 'broke his heart,'" according to Flinn's report. She added that she was not surprised by the suicide "due to Jerry's current situation."

Jodee Blue, another sister of Roth's, told police that Roth was hounded by the media and "two Caseyville cops that are after him." Blue said Roth was losing sleep because of the stress.

Blue and Merrilee Roth were named as the beneficiaries of Roth's estate, the police report stated, and the money was released to them. Neither of the women had a Firearms Owner Identification card, but police told them that they could retrieve the guns after they obtained a FOID card.

Roth was placed on paid leave in May after he was charged in state court with official misconduct with regard to the purchase of a 2003 Dodge Dakota Pickup seized in a drug bust. Roth used the truck for personal and police business until police officers pressured the village board to auction the truck. The village board told Roth to get bids for the truck from local car dealers. The bid process was scrutinized when officers learned Roth purchased the truck from a dealership where his friend Brad Reno worked. The dealership bought the truck from the village for $7,500. Roth purchased the truck less than a month later.

Roth was also charged with personal use of luggage purchased with village funds.

Justin Kuehn, Roth's lawyer in the state case, said after Roth's death that the two men worked closely to mount a defense and he was optimistic about the outcome of the case.

On May 9, Roth submitted his resignation as chief and turned over his police equipment, including a laptop computer, a Glock .40 caliber pistol an his chief's badge.

Cecil received the text from Roth about 1:30 a.m. that day. She told the police dispatcher that she became concerned about Roth when she saw the text and was unable to reach him by phone. She went to the house and spotted Roth's body in the backyard.

"I can't believe this," Cecil told the police dispatcher. "I can't believe he did this."

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