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Widow disputes claims of rape in suicide case

Joe Centers • Mar 18, 2013 at 7:46 AM

Betty Francis was on her way to Missouri when she heard the awful news.

Her husband of 35 years, Gary L. Francis, shot himself while in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Milan Police Department Monday afternoon.

Police have said Francis was under investigation for a suspected sex offense involving a 6-year-old Sandusky girl.

Betty Francis does not believe her estranged husband would do such a thing.

"Gary was not that type of person," Betty said. "This is devastating for my kids, grandkids.

"It was never a proven fact. From what we've been told, there was a two-minute conversation on the phone (about the accusation). There was no written report. She (the 6-year-old girl) was never taken to be looked at.

"I just don't want him going out looking like a sexual offender. I was married to him 35 years. He has always been around young kids.

"This is not him. Gary was the nicest, coolest guy in the world. This was not Gary. It has been devastating to my kids and really devastating to my 10-year-old grandson."

Milan Police Chief Jim Rose talked about the incident and disputed Betty Francis' claims about the investigation.

"There is a written report and it is classified as a rape," Rose said. "There is a rape that took place of a 6-year-old. We still have an obligation to wrap up everything (with the investigation) ... make sure there is no culpability of anybody. We'll probably close out the case next week sometime."

These are tough cases to deal with.

"I've got mixed emotions about it. ... It's not easy," Rose said.

The chief stopped Francis on Ohio 601 near Audrey Lane about six minutes before the man shot himself.

"I just got finished talking to him. I made a traffic stop on him," Rose told the Reflector earlier this week.

"The victim was in the area and was worried about him being in the area. I decided to stop him and ask him about the allegations. He actually was already pulled over," Rose said. "He was pretty nervous."

Rose didn't see any weapon in the car during the traffic stop, but he said Francis told him he had a gun.

"He said it was under the seat. I told him to leave it there. He was cooperative -- no problems," Rose said. "He had a CCW permit."

While the chief said Francis gave no reason for pulling his vehicle to the side of Ohio 601, he said the man agreed to come to the station to be interviewed and give a statement.

"He followed me to the station. I went (inside) through the garage and he never came into the station," Rose said. "I was waiting for him to come in and that's when I found him."

Rose said he went out to the car to ask Francis to come inside and discovered his body in the front seat of his running vehicle. The chief said Francis used a pistol, but declined to elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.

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