Scott's ID, Money Clip Found in River

Body of Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott was found near Chicago River early Monday morning

By BJ Lutz and Alex Perez
|  Wednesday, Nov 18, 2009  |  Updated 5:54 PM CDT
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Scott's ID, Money Clip Found in River

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The body of School Board President Michael Scott was found in the Chicago River on Monday.

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A gun found under the body of Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott belonged to him and gunshot residue was retrieved from his left hand, but police still aren't ready to call the death a suicide.

Ballistics testing is ongoing to determine whether the gun found with Scott's body is indeed the weapon that killed him, police Supt. Jody Weis said Wednesday. 

The weapon, according to Weis, was purchased by the school board president in 1981, a year before the city's ban on handguns. It was not registered.

Divers also recovered Scott's identification and money clip, which police say indicates Scott wasn't robbed.

Weis said the investigation continues, however, and he said that unlike the medical examiner, he's not ready to call Scott's death a suicide.

"I don't want to make any judgment at this time until we have all those facts," Weis said.  "We want to be thorough.  We want to be complete, and we will follow the evidence until its logical fruition."

Surveillance video may also provide some evidence.  Weis said his department is working with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications to obtain video from cameras in the area to determine if anyone was in the car with Scott when it was driven to 350 N. Orleans.

Scott's car was cited for a parking violation about an hour before his body was found at about 3:15 a.m.  Patrolling officers, Weis explained, were likely not informed of the missing persons report, which had been filed about three hours prior.

Weis fielded several questions about the amount of time that elapsed from when Scott's body was discovered to when the medical examiner was notified, and why officers moved the body before that call was made. 

"Those situations sometimes are dictated by the actual circumstances that the investigators encounter on the scene," Weis said.  "I mean, although there's a policy to notify the medical examiner, certain facts may be taking place at the scene that may not make that priority based upon a specific time frame."

He conceded the call to the medical examiner probably could have been made sooner.

Weis said moving the body was instrumental in allowing officers to get a sample of the gunshot reside from Scott's left hand.

"I was not optimistic that that would happen based upon the fact that his hand was in the water," Weis said.  "I think the swiftness which with the detectives moved to preserve the body and preserve the evidence allowed us to get a gunshot residue test that was positive off his left hand.

Several people with whom Scott had phone conversations in the hours before his disappearance have been interviewed and described the calls as regular and routine.

The superintendent conceded that the only person who may know exactly what happened is Scott himself.

Scott's body was found Monday morning near the Chicago River with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head, and his death has provoked much debate among city officials and media observers.

As of Wednesday, more than two dozen ministers and activists have said they don't believe Scott committed suicide, and are calling on state and federal authorities to conduct their own investigations.

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