Coroner, police provide additional information in death of missing Troy man
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By Pat Pratt
For more than seven months in 2022, Troy wondered without explanation what happened to their fellow community member, a father and friend to many, Richard Maedge.
After his disappearance in late April, family members posted missing persons fliers and pleaded for information. Local authorities said they were diligently investigating the case. Media reports outlined what information could be obtained about the circumstances surrounding the 53-year-old seemingly vanishing without a trace.
Last week, the death investigation was closed and the Madison County Coroner released Maedge’s autopsy and investigative findings. The following is a summary of those documents, as well as information obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, provided by family members and authorities.
Maedge was reported missing on April 27 from his home in Troy. His last known contact was to his wife the day before, when he told her he was leaving work early. When she arrived home, his vehicle was parked in the driveway and his keys were on the counter, according to a March 1 news release by Madison County Coroner’s Office.
On the evening of Dec. 11, Maedge was discovered deceased. The day after the discovery of Maedge’s body Troy Police issued a news release stating he was found dead but withheld the location, citing the ongoing investigation.
It was not until the Dec. 19 Troy City Council meeting a revelation was made on his whereabouts. At the meeting, family members criticized police for not finding Maedge earlier, and revealing he was discovered inside his own home.
Family members at that time also said Maedge had taken his own life.
Last week both of those claims were confirmed by official sources. The Madison County Coroner’s Office, following an autopsy and joint investigation with Troy Police, in a March 1 news release stated the cause of death for Maedge was by hanging and the manner of death was suicide.
There were no other injuries found during the autopsy examination or evidence found that would indicate anything nefarious regarding Mr. Maedge’s death. A toxicology screen showed only Ibuprofen.
Additional information obtained from a Madison County Coroner’s case report shed some light on what may have led Maedge to take his own life.
On Dec. 11, coroner investigator Sakina T. Vernor arrived at the scene and called the time of death at 8:30 p.m., according to the narrative portion of the case report.
During his investigation, Vernor learned Maedge had a history of depression and anxiety and had sought treatment as recently as 2019. When Maedge was reported missing, he was also in a dispute with family members about the fate of his now late father, who was in declining health.
“It should be noted that Maedge stated that the day before the decedent went missing, he texted his sister stating that he didn’t know how much more of this he could take,” Vernor stated in the case report.
Many online commenters on the case wondered how a decomposing body would not emit a noticeable odor. Coroners wrote in the March 1 release Maedge was discovered by his wife when she went to look for a tote of Christmas decorations in a concealed area of the home.
“I asked Maedge if she noticed a foul odor and she stated that she had smelled an odor and it was stronger when she walked by the closet,” Vernor wrote. “Maedge advised that she called a plumber to her residence in May or June who told her that she had a sewer leak in her basement. She stated that the plumber capped the leak in the basement.”
Troy Police, in a statement Monday about what steps were completed in the investigation, also wrote an open sewer pipe was found and a plumber was called in to cap it off.
Authorities and family members have described the area where Maedge took his life as an obscure storage area.
“The area in the concealed room was only big enough for one person to occupy it,” Nonn wrote. “Upon opening the door to the concealed storage area, she would then find the decedent’s body and called 9-1-1.”
The coroner’s investigation also described the space Madge was found as a “secret part of the closet.” Vernor wrote he had to move several items from the closet in order to gain access.
“It should be noted that I removed most of the clothes in the closet and the bottom rack in the closet in order to access the opening of the storage room,” Vernor wrote in his report.
Police conducted three searches of the inside of the residence, one of those following the aforementioned report of a noxious odor. In the outline of steps taken in the investigation, police stated a small was reported and officers found an open sewer pipe.
“Additional search of house after reported odor,” one of the outline points reads. “Officers found an open sewer pipe that a plumber was called in for and capped off. No further smell complaints.”
More than 30 tips received by Troy Police were followed up on in Missouri and Illinois and numerous interviews were conducted. In addition to three searches at the residence, officers conducted a K-9 search of the area and employed a search and rescue group to help. Other family properties were also searched, with consent.
“Search and Rescue group brought in to search for Richard,” another of the outline points reads. “Numerous cadaver dogs also brought in to search curtilage and surrounding wooded area.”
Cellphone GPS coordinates were obtained, areas around St. Jerome’s Catholic Church on South Main Street in Troy was searched and a shoe and hat found in woods at abandoned property on Center Street. Police searched the area and verified it was not Maedge’s clothing. Hospitals and mental health facilities were contacted, video surveillance was obtained from neighbors and financial records were examined, and other efforts were employed by police to locate the missing man, to no avail.
“We are still working on the case,” Assistant Chief Christopher Wasser said in late October in an article on Maedge’s disappearance. “Our detectives work on some aspect of the case everyday. Some of these search warrants and everything take a long time to get back. We want to find him just as much as everybody else.”
In his life, Maedge was described as the ultimate “Mr. Fix It,” very creative with mechanical design and repair, his obituary reads. He enjoyed watching Blues Hockey, Cardinals Baseball and NASCAR. Family members in interviews regarding his disappearance described him as caring, slow to anger and kind.
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Dial 988
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call 988. Visit 988lifeline.org for crisis chat services or for more information.