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A young Florida couple who both served as county sheriff’s deputies were found dead within days of one another of suspected suicides, according to reports.
St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy Clayton Osteen, 24, died by suicide on Jan. 2, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday. Deputy Victoria Pacheco, 23, with whom Osteen shared a 1-month-old son, later took her own life “in the wake of Deputy Osteen’s death.”
“While it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the private circumstances leading up to this devastating loss, we pray that this tragedy becomes a catalyst for change, a catalyst to help ease the stigma surrounding well-being and normalize the conversation about the challenges so many of us face on a regular basis,” Sheriff Ken Mascara said in a statement on Tuesday.
County investigators responded to an unspecified address shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve after reports that the Florida deputy, who was off duty at the time, had attempted to kill himself. His family requested doctors remove him from life support on Jan. 2. Officials didn’t specify additional details regarding Pacheco’s suspected suicide.
“Law enforcement deal with not only the day-to-day stress we all face but also the stress of those whom they serve in our community, which can sometimes be very challenging,” Mascara also said.
Authorities, who confirmed their son is safe and currently with family, haven’t formally released the child’s name.
A GoFundMe, which was was set up for the child by friends of the family, stated the young boy’s name is Jayce.
“Clayton and Victoria were joy-filled, first-time parents excited about their growing family, enamored with their baby Jayce, and so in love with each other,” the page stated. “Tragically, for reasons completely unknown and totally out of character, Clayton took his own life December 31st, 2021. Reeling from the shock of loss, Victoria took her own life two days later.”
The verified fundraiser stated a close relative planned to adopt the infant. The couple “selflessly served” the citizens of St. Lucie County, the page added.
“Baby Jayce now needs the support of [the] community and country to help provide for him going forward,” the GoFundMe page said.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is also collecting donations online for the couple’s families, officials said.
Osteen was hired by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in 2019, according to his personnel file. Pacheco joined the department a year later, additional records show.
“As sheriff, I saw these two deputies as young, ambitious and a great compliment to my already amazing group of professionals,” Mascara said. “To the general public, and sometimes even myself, it’s easy to view law enforcement as superhuman. But let’s not forget that they’re human just like us.”
Osteen served in the United States Marine Corps and had been a SWAT team member. He was awarded Deputy of the Year in 2020. He would have turned 25 on Jan. 14.
Those who knew Osteen described the Florida deputy as “super funny,” “driven” and an “upstanding young man.”
Pacheco, who graduated from South Fork High School in 2016, previously attended Indian River State College. She was described as an “energetic,” “genuine,” “honest” and a “kick ass person” who had a passion for serving in law enforcement.
Attempts to contact the deputies’ families were unsuccessful on Thursday. The St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office also declined to comment further on the matter when contacted by Oxygen.com this week.
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