A South St. Paul schoolteacher and his husband being investigated in a criminal matter turned up dead in Washington state in an apparent murder-suicide.
Authorities found the bodies of Aric Babbitt and his husband, Matthew Deyo, after they were called to a beach on Lopez Island by a kayaker who came upon one of the bodies on Thursday afternoon, said San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs.
Both men died of gunshot wounds, and investigators found a suicide note, Krebs said in a statement.
“There were stressors in their life and they came here and ended their lives,” said San Juan County Undersheriff Brent Johnson.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday that Babbitt and Deyo were under investigation after being accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with two underage boys and a long-term sexual relationship with a boy who is now 16, according to Dakota County court documents.
According to the documents, the 16-year-old boy and his parents went to police Aug. 14 to report an ongoing sexual relationship with Babbitt and Deyo. Further investigation revealed two other underage males had experienced similar sexual activity with the pair.
Witnesses in the area about 100 miles north of Seattle had reported hearing two gunshots about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Krebs added.
An autopsy was being conducted by the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office.
Babbitt, a teacher at Lincoln Center Elementary School in South St. Paul, and Deyo were being investigated by South St. Paul police, Cmdr. Philip Oeffling confirmed Tuesday morning.
“It’s early in the investigation,” Oeffling said. He would not divulge further details.
South St. Paul Superintendent David Webb confirmed that the district had placed Babbitt on paid leave on Aug. 17 after allegations against the teacher surfaced. He declined to say what the allegations concerned.
Webb said the district “has been in communication” with police on the matter.
Babbitt had taught in the district for 15 years, Webb said. Babbitt and Deyo jointly owned a house in South St. Paul, Dakota County property tax records show.
The deaths cast a pall over the beginning of the new school year, which began this week with a welcome back session for teachers and staff. Classes for students begin Sept. 6.
“Any time you lose staff it’s tough,” Webb said.
Extra counselors are on site this week to help district staff and students cope.