TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A Terre Haute firefighter accused of child molestation has died, according to the Vigo County Coroner's Office.
Rodger Plunkett, II was found dead at his home early Thursday morning, according to the Vigo County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Plasse says Plunkett hanged himself. Plunkett sent separate time-delayed messages to at least two people including News 10’s Jon Swaner and Plunkett’s wife. The message from Plunkett to Jon Swaner included a line that said we may quote the message as needed. The message said Plunkett would have taken his own life by the time the message was read. In full, the message reads the following:
News 10 reached out to Fire Chief Jeff Fisher and Norm Loudermilk, who previously worked for the the Terre Haute Fire Department, as they were named in Plunkett's message. Chief Fisher told News 10, "I feel bad for the Plunkett family. I feel bad for the Terre Haute firefighter family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they deal with tragedy."
Loudermilk responded saying, "This is a sad day for the Plunket family as well as the Terre Haute Fire Department family. My thoughts and prayers go out to Roger's family and friends. However I have no culpability in the things that Rodger Plunket did ranging from his violations of certain rules on the Terre Haute Fire department to his criminal activity and his arrest for child molestation to and including his death."
Joe Etling, Plunkett's attorney had no comment.
Plunkett was charged with five counts of child molestation in September of 2019. According to court documents, he was accused of molesting the two girls between 1998 and 2005. Plunkett had a hearing scheduled for Thursday. The Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office says it has dropped the charges against Plunkett due his death.
While Chief Jeff Fisher had pushed for Plunkett’s termination with the Fire Department, the Fire Merit Commission voted to suspend Plunkett without pay in November of 2019, pending the result of the criminal case. Chief Fisher had filed for an appeal of the decision.
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There were six allegations of violations of rules and regulations within the department brought before the Commission. Members who voted felt the three allegations with evidence were two drunk driving charges, and a picture Plunkett had of two men engaging in sexual activity. According to documents, he edited the face of another member of the Fire Department and a Terre Haute citizen onto the photo and distributed it. The board said Plunkett admitted to this, but insisted it was out of fun and not malice.
News 10 has reached out to the Vigo County Coroner's Office. Dr. Roland Kor expects to perform the autopsy Friday. After that, the official cause of death will be released.