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An Arkansas high school band director fatally shot himself on his grandmother’s tombstone last week, hours after being charged with dozens of counts of child sexual assault involving an ex-student, police said.
Randall Mealer, 56, who was facing 50 counts of first-degree child sexual assault, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a rural Stone County graveyard on July 3. He’d been arrested in Boone County a day earlier, court filings show.
Deputies responded to a cemetery near the unincorporated community of Newnata on July 3 around 9:30 a.m. after reports of a possible dead body. Mealer was later found unresponsive at the location. He’d died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Investigators aren’t looking for possible suspects at this time. Foul play isn’t suspected in Mealer’s sudden death.
“It’s a 100 percent suicide,” Chief Deputy Dammon McGilton of the Stone County Sheriff’s Office, told Oxygen.com. “It was very apparent that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
A large-caliber handgun was also discovered in the vicinity of the the corpse. Officials declined to specify whether a suicide note was found.
“He killed himself on top of his grandmother’s grave,” McGilton said.
No autopsy was ordered in the case.
Mealer, who had been employed by Harrison School District since 2006, taught music at Harrison High School. He also served as the school’s band director and oversaw its marching, pep, and concert bands.
Charging information alleges that Mealer engaged in “sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with the victim on at least 50 occasions,” between 2017 and 2018, the Newton County Times reported. “The victim was a student of the defendant.”
In February 2020, Harrison school district employees first learned of “possible inappropriate actions” of Mealer and contacted law enforcement who opened an investigation into the high school band director. The disgraced educator resigned in June 2020 after the sexual assault allegations against him first surfaced.
“Although Mr. Mealer resigned from the District, Harrison Schools continued to cooperate with authorities and focus on the protection of all children," Superintendent Dr. Stewart Pratt told Oxygen.com in a statement on Wednesday.
The former student victim, who is now an adult, officials said.
“Our hearts go out to all those involved in the devastating chain of events surrounding Randall Mealer,” Pratt added.
Mealer was arrested on Friday; his bond had been set at $75,000, according to an arrest warrant.
It’s unclear if other students were victimized by Mealer.
Mealer’s family was from the area of Newnata, police said. A funeral was held for Mealer on Tuesday. He was buried in his family’s cemetery adjacent to where authorities suspect he shot himself.
“He killed himself where he was buried, at the exact plot,” McGilton said. “It’s the same graveyard he’s buried in.”
Mealer was also a father, according to investigators.
“His kids are really struggling with this,” McGilton explained. “It’s a sad deal. It’s just sad when somebody does that.”
Anyone with information related to other possible victims are encouraged to contact Harrison Police Department at 870-741-5463.
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