The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

April 2, 2014

Suicide suspected in Lawrence County shooting death

HALLTOWN, Mo. — Investigators believe that a rural Halltown man who was found shot to death outside his burning home may have taken his own life.

A mail carrier spotted a berm home and outbuildings on fire at 11:17 a.m. Tuesday at 2346 County Road 1235 and called for help.

Firefighters from about a dozen area departments responded and came upon a man’s body about 20 yards east of the house.

Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay said the man had a single wound to the chest believed to have been inflicted with a shotgun that was found at the scene.

“Everything we have found up to this point leads us to believe it was suicide, a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest,” DeLay said.

The man was identified as 73-year-old Claud Sullins, who lived at the address. Fire destroyed the residence and a barn, and caused extensive damage to a storage shed.

The sheriff said investigators believe Sullins may have set the house and outbuildings on fire before shooting himself, although a state fire investigator is still looking into the cause of the fires. Sullins’ wife was not home at the time.

“She had left to go to Springfield and came back home to this,” the sheriff said.

He said Sullins’ reasons for apparently taking his own life and setting the property on fire remain unclear. He said no suicide note had been located by midafternoon.

An autopsy was scheduled to be conducted today in Springfield.

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