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Mother about to evict man who committed suicide

Dec 17, 2010 8:50 am
It was revealed in news reports today that the Athens/Leeds man who took his own life with a single bullet after setting fire to his home early yesterday morning was about to be evicted by his mother, and had just lost a sister the week before. According to Ann Gibbons of the Daily Freeman, Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said Steve Svidro, 49, who ran a maintenance and painting business, lived with his mother in a ranch-style house in the town of Athens. Seeley declined to identify the mother but said she was in her late 80s and lost a daughter just a week ago. The Sheriff added that firefighters were called to 330 Valley Road about 5 a.m. Thursday and that the house there “was fully involved” by the time members of the Leeds Fire Company arrived a few minutes later. There also was a small fire burning in a garage-style barn on the property, but a sheriff’s deputy was able to extinguish it. The mother explained what happened and sheriff's deputies, with the aid of a police dog, tracked Svido through the woods and to a nearby lake that the family owned for hunting and fishing purposes, where his body was found seated in a chair, dead of a single self-inflicted .357-magnum revolver bullet wound, at around 10:30 a.m.

Seeley said the house fire took several hours to put out and that the building appeared to be a total loss.

Seeley said Svidro’s mother was inside the house as her son deposited unidentified accelerants throughout the structure.

“She saw him walk by a window, then the house went up in flames,” the sheriff said. “She ran out and called for help.”

Svidro, having fled, was declared a “person of interest” in the arson investigation and police agencies in both Greene and Columbia counties were alerted to bee on the lookout for him, Seeley said.

The sheriff said Svidro’s mother told deputies her son had guns and was a “sharpshooter.”

Seeley said police began looking for Svidro’s vehicle around the perimeter of the property but then learned he had gotten rid of it the day before, so they worked on the assumption that he was on foot and nearby.

“We knew the family owned a large lake about a mile away and that he was a hunter and fisherman,” the sheriff said. “Blaze, our canine, tracked him through the woods and to the lake, where we found him (dead) around 10:30 a.m.”

Seeley said deputies found Svidro “sitting in a chair, already deceased, from a single gunshot wound to the head.” A .357-magnum revolver was near the body, the sheriff said.

Seeley said he spoke to the mother personally after Svidro was found dead.

“I went in person to give her my condolences,” he said. “It’s sad that something like this happens right around the holidays, but it’s particularly hard for her because she lost her daughter just last week.”

Seeley declined to speculate on the motive for the arson and suicide, but he did say Svidro had been living in the house for quite a while and that his mother had filed papers for him to be evicted.

The sheriff said he did not know if there was a history of domestic problems between Svidro and his mother.

The sheriff said his office has been joined in the investigation by the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Greene County Cause and Origin Team and county District Attorney Terry Wilhelm.
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