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Newark teacher found dead day after police seize his phone and computers



A disclosure by a former student began an investigation into a Newark teacher. That led to a search warrant on the home of Shawn Flanagan, age 45, residing on Moore Street in Newark.

On Wednesday, Newark Village Police seized Flanagan’s phone and computers. Following the search warrant, police stated Flanagan was in fine spirits. A woman, described as his best friend, reportedly left his residence at about 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday night.

On Thursday, Newark school officials became concerned when Flanagan failed to show up at the Newark High School for classes. He reportedly had been having some health problems with his knees.

A school staff member was sent to his residence, and after getting no reply at the door, looked through a window. He saw Flanagan at the bottom of some steps and told police it appeared he had fallen down the stairs.

Police, upon entering the home, discovered Flanagan had taken his own life.

Newark Village Police, along with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office had been investigating allegations by some students, inside and outside the Village, that Flanagan had inappropriate interactions with them.

Flanagan had been the Biomedical Science Teacher at Newark Central School district since 2001. He taught at both the Middle School and most recently at the High School. He reportedly was also involved with Scouts and was a Science Club Advisor at the school district and leader of the Newark Ambulance-Junior Membership Corp.

Police indicated that videos already reviewed are believed to be local students  of undetermined ages.

Word of Flanagan’s death spread quickly through the student population with many students praising his dedication to teaching.

One former student wrote on  Shawn Flanagan’s Facebook page:

“I just heard the news and the word devastated does not even begin to cover it. You were one of the greatest mentors I ever had and one of my greatest inspirations for pursuing teaching as a career in my recent life change. I was looking forward to being able to visit Newark this winter and tell you all about it and I’m sorry I didn’t sooner. I hope that I can bring even half as much passion and love for science and enjoyment for learning with my kids that you brought to me in all the years you mentored me in class, science club, and NAVA. I don’t think either of us ever thought teaching was where I’d end up, but I hope you’d have been proud. Thank you, to the man who saw the best in me in ways I could not. The community has lost a wonderful educator and you will be greatly and deeply missed.”

“You just do not know what people’s demons are,” said Newark Police investigator Gary Verstraete. Gary said he has known Flanagan for over 15 years and worked with him on various school and EMS projects. “I just don’t know,” added Verstraete.

Newark Chief Mark Thoms confirmed to the Times there were videos.

Thoms issued a statement on Friday night:

“…The resident had been a person of interest in a current ongoing joint investigation of the Newark Police Department and Wayne County Office of Sheriff in regards to possible inappropriate criminal behavior regarding Invasion of Privacy. The Newark Village Justice Court on October 23, 2019 issued a search warrant for property that may been used in the commission of an offense and property was seized for forensic analysis from the residence.

This forensic analysis will be a lengthy process to interpret any information acquired.”

The Newark Police Department is asking any persons with knowledge or information regarding this investigation to contact: Investigator Gary Verstraete or Investigator Jay Warren at 315-331-3701. Any and all information divulged will remain confidential.

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