In an about-face, Sandusky County law enforcement determined Sluder’s death, initially ruled a suicide, was, in fact, a suicide.
Sheriff Chris Hilton and county Prosecutor Tim Braun released a copy of the note Wednesday during a news conference.
Sluder, 37, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the chest March 1, 2009, in Clyde. Daniel Myers, who was recently convicted of killing Heather Bogle in 2015, found Sluder’s body.
Myers was sentenced to life in prison Feb. 13 and is currently an inmate at the Lorain Correctional Institution. He shared a child with Sluder.
After Hilton took office in 2017, he began investigating Myers as the prime suspect in Bogle’s brutal death, and evidence his investigative team developed made him question the initial ruling that Sluder shot herself with a .22 caliber rifle.
Neighbors in the Emerald Estates mobile home park where both Myers and Sluder lived told the sheriff they never believed she committed suicide and they had suspicions about Myers.
A family member of Myers found the note among Myers’ personal property at his mobile home when the home was being cleaned out after his arrest in the Bogle murder case. Law enforcement learned of the note’s existence on Feb. 25, and received it from Myers’ family the next day.
Hilton said the note has been compared to other writing samples of Sluder’s and authenticated.
The suicide note, which is undated and signed “Leigh Ann,” criticized Myers for how he treated Sluder.
“I was the one (who) was always there for you without question even when you said some of the meanest thing(s),” the note reads. “It just beat me down so far that I just felt like an empty shell inside.”
Hilton said Sluder’s note points to Myers as the cause for taking her own life.
“He broke her down to the point where she thought this was the only alternative she had,” Hilton said.
Braun said county law enforcement were looking for anything to prove that the initial suicide ruling false, but that didn’t happen.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on this, it’s been two years that the sheriff and I have been going over this stuff … from every possible angle we could think of,” Braun said. “But at this point I think we’re convinced that this was probably a suicide.”
Braun said it wasn’t unusual that investigators only received this note now, more than a decade after Sluder’s death.
“Daniel Myers is someone who keeps his secrets very tight,” he said.
Myers cooperated in the initial investigation into Sluder’s suicide, said Braun, but he did not tell investigators he had a suicide note.
Leigh Ann’s sister, Loriann Sluder Haley, said her family spoke with the prosecutor and sheriff about their findings in a phone call Tuesday.
“I was shocked,” she said.
Haley said the way the case ended was “heartbreaking,” and it was a coincidence that Wednesday’s news conference marked 10 years to the day since Leigh Ann’s funeral. Haley also said she felt like she “failed” her sister and her sister’s child.
Haley also said she did not think the signature on the note was her sister’s, and suggested someone might have helped her write it.
Hilton spoke about previously unreleased details on Sluder’s death during the conference.
The Lucas County Coroner’s Office did an autopsy on Sluder after her death. The coroner’s opinion was that the death was a suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot.
An agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations also examined evidence from the crime scene. Forensic evidence, including blood, were consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot.