A former West Columbia, Texas, police chief was found dead at his home Thursday morning, days before he was scheduled to stand trial for aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Investigators found evidence that Michael Palmer had bound, gagged and repeatedly assaulted a young boy beginning in 1998, reports Click 2 Houston. Bondage gear was also found in Palmer’s office at the police department.
Palmer fled following the discovery, and police and EquuSearch volunteers spent days trying to locate him. He was found near the town of Brazoria, and arrested by investigators with the county district attorney’s office.
Palmer was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and eight counts of tampering with evidence.
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His trial was scheduled to begin next week.
The West Columbia Police Department said Palmer was found unresponsive in the backyard of his home at around 3:34 p.m. on Thursday, reports Houston Chronicle.
Palmer’s cause of death has not been released.
Palmer was removed from his position in 2013 prior to being accused of child sexual assault. He was fired when fellow officers complained he was stealing painkillers that had been taken as evidence in police investigations.