Suicide suspected in Fort Richardson soldier's death

James Halpin
U.S. Army photo

A Fort Richardson soldier who was found dead in his East Anchorage home this week died of an apparent suicide, according to his family.

The body of Staff Sgt. Anthony S. Schmachtenberger, 30, was found Wednesday afternoon by two soldiers sent to find him when he did not show up for work, the Army said Thursday.

He was discovered in his garage with a vehicle running, apparently killed by asphyxiation, said his mother, Robin Scalero, reached in Alliance, Ohio. Personal problems, combined with the stress of combat, may have overcome Schmachtenberger, she said.

"I think it had to do with Iraq and what he had to deal with when he come home," she said. "He was a great kid. He was, I know. And he loved his daughters. I thought he loved life. I really did."

Suicide among the ranks has been an increasing issue for the military. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense said there had been 88 reported Army suicides in the first six months of the year. During the same period last year, there were 67 confirmed suicides, according to the department.

According to the Army, Schmachtenberger, an artilleryman from Minerva, Ohio, joined the Army in March 1999 and came to Fort Richardson in April 2006. He was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

He was with the rear detachment and had not deployed to Afghanistan with the unit earlier this year, Army spokesman Chuck Canterbury said. Why he didn't deploy was not clear. His mother, however, said Schmachtenberger did go to Iraq the last time the unit deployed and saw combat while there.

Schmachtenberger had three young daughters, Scalero said. Two of them from a previous relationship live with their mother in New York, but his youngest, born in January, was with his wife in Alaska.

He and his wife, however, were having troubles and were separated of late, she said. Schmachtenberger's wife, Sue Chapman, filed a restraining order against him last month. Chapman, who is now living in Fairbanks, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command is investigating the death.

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