UPDATE: The body of Tom Sponseller has been found. Authorities searched his office and nearby garage for him since he went missing, but did not find him until today. His body was discovered on the lower level of the parking garage at 1122 Lady Street in Columbia, South Carolina, in a double enclosed room.
Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott said Sponseller “likely committed suicide” and the Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said all indications were that “Sponseller shot himself in the head with a 9 millimeter gun.”
A suicide note was also found in his office. Two sources said that Sponseller said he was aware of the missing money and the federal probe. He said he was sorry it had happened while he was in charge of the association
During the search for Sponseller, information came out that several hundred thousand dollars was missing from the association. Investigators were focusing on Rachel Duncan, who was the accounting director for the association.
The U.S. Secret Service was looking into the association’s books several months ago. Rick Erwin the association’s interim director has hired an accounting firm to do an audit of its finances to make sure the members financial contribution are secure.
No further information has come out as to the cause of death for Sponseller. He was the head of the association for more than 20 years.
UPDATE: The State newspaper reports, law enforcement is looking into missing money, up to $900,000 dollars from the Hospitality association.
Officials say Rachel Duncan who serves as the accounting director, is a person of interest in the missing money investigation.
Tom Sponseller, 61, was last seen in downtown Columbia around noon on Saturday, February 18.
Tom is the president and CEO of the South Carolina Hospitality Association. He was reported missing on Saturday night after he did not return home.
His car was found parked near where he works and was last seen. Tom has not answered his cell phone.
“Tom as served as President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospitality Association for nearly 22 years. He is a prominent hospitality industry leader her in our state as well as nationally. Out thought and prayers are with Tom’s family and friends, said the Hospitality Association in a statement.
If you have seen Tom, please call the Columbia Police Dept. at 803-545-3500.
Tom is 6’1″ tall, 160 pounds with balding gray and white hair. He has hazel eyes and wears glasses.