A Zearing city councilman who killed himself last month did so hours after his home was searched as part of an investigation into child pornography allegations, according to an investigative report released by the Story County Sheriff’s Office.
Scott Frank, 51, was found dead in the basement of his home at 502 North St., in Zearing, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound about 8 p.m. on Sept. 17. His death was ruled a suicide following an autopsy.
The pornography investigation was closed following Frank’s death, and no charges were filed.
His home was searched by officials with the Story County Sheriff’s Office the morning of Sept. 17, after two minors reported seeing child pornography on a laptop computer during a visit to Frank’s home two days earlier.
The minors were acquaintances of Frank’s, and it was not uncommon for them to spend time at his home, according to the investigative report filed by Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Rhoad.
It states that one of the minors was changing a setting on Frank’s computer when “a file opened containing hundreds of pictures of children” appearing to be between 4 and 15 years old.
Some of the photos showed young boys naked, while others were still wearing underwear. Most looked as if they were posing for the photo, the report said. Most of the photos were black and white, but some were in color.
A law enforcement officer identified in the report as E.C. Quinn spoke with two of the minors on Sept. 16 with their parents present. The two recounted finding the photographs the day before, and said that they were “startled by this,” and that there were “hundreds and hundreds of pictures, so they just put everything back the way it was and left.”
During the search of Frank’s home on the morning of Sept. 17, authorities confiscated 13 items, including two laptop computers, a camera, a storage device, photographs, magazines, VHS tapes and a DVD, among other items.
Rhoad, the deputy, said in his report that Frank, who served on the Zearing City Council for eight years and managed an auto salvage business in Des Moines, came to the Sheriff’s Office voluntarily after his home was searched. He admitted the laptop computer was his, but denied there was child pornography and asked to consult with an attorney.
“Frank was allowed to leave as we did not yet have a charge to hold him on,” Rhoad said in his report.
The Sheriff’s Office was notified at about 8 p.m. that night that Frank had been found dead in the basement of his home.
The report states that deputies entered the basement and found Frank lying on his back with a gunshot wound to his head. A revolver was found about 1 foot from his hand, the report said.
According to the investigative report, a suicide note was found in the home, leaving Frank’s estate to his three sons.
Sheriff’s Office Capt. Barry Thomas said he did not believe the note included any reason for the suicide.
An analysis of Frank’s laptop was completed Sept. 26, and Rhoad said in his report that he found “several images of what appear to be nude minor children.”
Thomas said that he believed photographs were only found on the one computer, and that “the majority of them were believed to be taken from the Internet.”
While Thomas said it’s “not conclusive at this point in time” whether Frank took some of the photos himself, “there is a possibility that some of the photos may have been of local people, but we have not been able to confirm that.”
“At this point in time, we have had nobody come forward and indicate to us that they have been inappropriately touched by Mr. Frank,” Thomas said. “If that information was provided to us, we would certainly thoroughly investigate that as well.”
Frank’s sister, Tracy Frank, said their family did not know about the investigation.