Man found dead in the Arboretum

A Tennessee man, unconnected to the College, was found dead of an apparent suicide in the Arboretum

<em>Photo By:</em> Sarah Cartwright
Photo By: Sarah Cartwright

A 52-year-old Tennessee man was found dead in the Linnaeus Arboretum on Tuesday, Sept. 1. According to the St. Peter Police Department, David Barton, who was found in the wooded part of the Arboretum, had committed suicide.

The man, who had no ties to Gustavus or the city of St. Peter, was part of a group from Minnesota Teen Challenge, a voluntary treatment program based in Minneapolis that serves adults as well as teens.

The group was visiting the Jesus Assembly of God Church in St. Peter on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009 when Barton walked away from the group. According to Eric Vagle, a spokesman for Minnesota Teen Challenge, Barton quit the voluntary program before leaving.

“We are deeply saddened by what happened,” Vagle said. “Our prayers and support are with the family.”

On Monday, Aug. 31, 2009, Barton’s daughter called St. Peter Police to report him missing. According to reports, Barton had a history of depression, and it was feared that he might attempt to take his own life. St. Peter Police conducted searches in the woods near the church and in local motels, but were unable to find him.

At 2:09 p.m., Campus Safety was notified  there was a missing person and conducted a search of the Arboretum. They located Barton in the wooded portion of the Arboretum, about 85 feet off the path. St. Peter Police were called and arrived at the scene around 3:00 p.m. Barton’s injuries indicated he had committed suicide.

Director of Campus Security Ray Thrower, who was part of the campus search to find Barton, said such discoveries are difficult, “[but] this will hopefully bring closure for the family.”