BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney has officially declared the March death of Bryan Penner a suicide and released his final communication. Penner is believed to have been responsible for the death of 24-year-old Sara Gomez, who disappeared in February.
D.A. John Hummel says Penner was in custody for violating a restraining order Gomez had. "He could not accept that somebody else was going to be with Sara, that she couldn't be his." He believes Penner thought he'd be released prior to being charged with murder, but took his life once he learned he'd be transferred to the Crook County Jail under a warrant for an outstanding probation violation. "Penner knew! Penner knew that he'd killed Sara, and no doubt knew what we'd found in his apartment
, and he knew that once that evidence was presented to a jury, he would not prevail. So, In that regard, He was right. His back was up against a wall," Hummel tells KBND News. "He, no doubt, felt that the investigation into the death of Sara was ramping up and law enforcement was getting close to filing charges against him."
Prior to hanging himself, Hummel says Penner left a suicide note in his cell at the Deschutes County Jail. In it, he denies any involvement in Gomez's disappearance and, "He claimed in this letter that Sara had gotten back together with him before she went missing. Nothing could be further from the truth." He adds, "Penner trying to rewrite history and say that she was back with him is shameful." Hummel says Penner had delusions of grandeur and felt persecuted by those who suspected him of wrongdoing, "He left many clues as to what he did to Sara Gomez. He left no doubt in the minds of investigators that he had killed her."
At the time of his death in March, Deschutes County Corrections Captain Michael Shults said Penner had been at the jail 10 times since 2007 and never showed signs of being a suicide risk. Sgt. William Bailey confirms Penner's family has filed suit against the Sheriff's office. Hummel says, "He's not with us anymore, and I do grieve for his family who've lost him. But, what he did in his final moments, in penning that letter, is disgusting."