Utah man attempts suicide by mercury after sex charges filed
Police say a former science teacher and ex-Boy Scout leader charged last week with sexually exploiting five different boys tried to kill himself by ingesting mercury at a Logan home.
Kenneth Prince, 61, was found Thursday about 3 a.m. inside a house with a half-empty bottle of mercury and cuts on his wrists and head, police said.
In a written suicide note, Prince explained that he planned to kill himself in response to charges filed against him in 2nd District Court, said Logan Police spokesman Capt. Jeff Curtis.
Prince, of Uintah, was charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree felonies that each carry a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison, for allegedly abusing several teenage boys.
When Logan officers found Prince inside the home, Curtis said, they called for an ambulance and had him involuntarily committed for mental health screenings.
But in removing Prince from the premises, at least two police officers and several paramedics were inadvertently exposed to the mercury, which had spilled onto the floor, Curtis said.
"He put them in harm's way by having that stuff around," Curtis said. "It took us quite a bit by surprise. But it just goes to show you that you have to be ready for, literally, anything."
Although no emergency responders suffered any symptoms of mercury poisoning, two officers' homes had to be decontaminated and several uniforms and other pieces of equipment were thrown out and replaced.
Even the Logan Police station, which was exposed to the chemical via the unwitting officers, had to be decontaminated.
That mostly involved letting the building air out and keeping people away until it was found safe, Curtis said. "It was a little inconvenient, but everyone survived."
It was not immediately clear how Prince obtained the mercury.
Prince was initially booked into the Weber County Jail on Tuesday and released shortly thereafter on a $10,000 bond.
Officials said their investigation was sparked by a now-adult male who told detectives that Prince had sexually abused him while he was a minor. Upon searching Prince's home, officers found several sexual images of young boys.
Police believe there may be more victims, though they specified that none of the alleged abuse had occurred on school grounds or during Boy Scout activities.
Prince was employed as teacher at South Ogden Junior High School from 1979 to 2008. Police said the suspect also had been a Boy Scout leader for many years in the South Ogden area.
As of Wednesday, detectives were still trying to identify the boys in the seized images.
None of the pictured youths were the complainant, and it was undetermined if the images were taken by Prince or if they had been downloaded from the Internet, according to South Ogden Police.
Prince is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon.