Jesse Ryan Loskarn, a former chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), was found dead Thursday in Carroll County, Md., following charges that he possessed and distributed child pornography. The Maryland medical examiner’s office confirmed Friday afternoon that the cause of death was suicide.
“At approximately 12pm yesterday, Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a private residence ... for a report of an unconscious male, believed to be deceased,” the sheriff's office said in a statement on Friday. “Family members reported finding 35-year old Jesse Ryan Loskarn unresponsive in his basement where he’d been residing with family since this past December.”
Bruce Goldfarb, a spokesman for the Maryland medical examiner’s office, told the Los Angeles Times that Loskarn had died by hanging himself.
Loskarn had been arrested in December by U.S. Postal Service investigators on charges that he possessed and distributed child pornography after a raid on his home.
As a grand jury began its proceedings, Loskarn was released from custody and was residing at his parents' home in Maryland. He was ordered not to use the Internet and to wear an ankle bracelet to track his movements.
The complaint filed against him alleged that he possessed a hard drive filled with "hundreds of videos depicting underage boys engaged in sexually explicit conduct."
Loskarn had served as Alexander's chief of staff for two years. The senator said in a December news release that he was "stunned, surprised and disappointed" by the allegations. On Friday, Alexander said, "For everyone involved, this is a sad and tragic story from beginning to end."
Loskarn's parents, Chuck and Gay Loskarn, also released a statement Friday.
"We loved our son very much, and we’re devastated by his death," they said. "Please respect our privacy at this difficult time and let us grieve in peace. Pray for him, his family and friends."
Prior to joining Alexander's office, Loskarn had served as communications director for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) from 2003 to 2007. In a statement to HuffPost, Blackburn said, "We received the news with sadness and are keeping his family in our thoughts and prayers."
This story has been updated with comments from the medical examiner's office, Loskarn's parents, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn.