OWENSBORO — An Owensboro man who shot and killed himself Thursday morning in the parking lot of Blessed Mother Catholic Church made a post on his Facebook page earlier in the day about the "pain and torment" he experienced because of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The Owensboro Police Department received a call at 7:05 a.m. CST about a body lying in the grass at 601 East 23rd Street, police spokeswoman Marian Cosgrove said.
The man, identified as David M. Jarboe, 23, was taken to Owensboro Medical Health System. He died Thursday night, according to the Daviess County coroner.
The Most Rev. William F. Medley, bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, issued a statement Friday afternoon saying, "In light of the information that has surfaced in his Facebook posting, the Diocese has begun an investigation in accord with diocesan policy."
Medley said officials think Jarboe shot himself between 6:45 and 7 a.m. Thursday, before children arrived "for the most part."
Blessed Mother is next to the Owensboro Catholic 4-6 Campus. Medley said he thought the Jarboe family were members of the church.
Medley said he thought some of the students saw police at the scene.
"But I don't think they know the nature of what transpired," he said. "I've not seen any police report. EMS was called, and he was transported to the hospital from there."
Ken Rasp, director of Owensboro Catholic Schools, sent an e-mail message to parents that said: "Early this morning, an incident occurred in the parking lot at Blessed Mother Church. A young man is in the hospital. The police were immediately in control of the situation. Our children and staff were never in any danger. Let us pray for the young man and his family."
Rasp said school remained in session Thursday. Students were out Friday for a scheduled day off.
"What I plead (is) that compassion for the family who is suffering so much right now be the hallmark of the response of any of us in the first hours and days," Medley said.
Early Thursday morning, Jarboe addressed friends and his parents in a Facebook note.
Jarboe wrote about sexual abuse in the Catholic church, writing "the abuse of the church is real. Let it be known. It doesn't make you a non believer. It doesn't jeopardize your fate. It's the right thing to do. ...
"However, never once will I ever agree with the molestation of children. And never once will I agree with an institution that chooses to not acknowledge it."
He wrote that he hopes "that this message will save at least one child from the pain and torment that I had to go through. ... Let this be hope to all those out there that have been abused by a Catholic priest in any capacity. Perhaps your parents don't see, perhaps those you know don't see, know that God sees. And God never forgets."
In the note, he named three priests, though he did not make specific accusations against them.
To the first one listed, Jarboe wrote, "Thanks for proving to me what dedicating your life to Christ can be like. Thanks for your service to the church."
To the second, "you get no thanks. You are an evil man. Period."
To the third, "I forgive you."
The Facebook posting was removed Thursday afternoon, according to a Facebook user who was a friend of Jarboe.
Medley had said Thursday that he was unaware of abuse allegations, and he had only "secondhand information about this note that was posted."
"I feel like, at this point, I know that went to Facebook, but that should belong to the family," Medley said. "I visited with the family and prayed with them. ... Until there's a resolution of this in terms of his life, it is very, very difficult to comment.
"Any suicide note or anything he left, I would consider to be the property emotionally and physically of the family, at this point."
Officials in the diocese also met Thursday with the principals and counselors from all four Owensboro Catholic Schools campuses. Mike Flaherty, who works in suicide prevention with Daviess County Public Schools and the Owensboro Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition, also met with the group.
"He urged us to try to always look at a situation like this to raise public consciousness of suicide prevention," Medley said. "To reach out to students or families that are impacted by this or the omen of someone's illness or depression."
Jarboe was a 2006 graduate of Owensboro Catholic High School, where he was a linebacker on the football team.
He was a Messenger-Inquirer All-Area first-team pick in 2005 and a nominee for the 2006 Messenger-Inquirer's Regional Academic All-Stars.
Sandra K. Jones, then chairwoman of Owensboro Catholic's English Department, nominated Jarboe to be an Academic All-Star in journalism.
In her nomination letter, she wrote that Jarboe was the editor in chief of the school newspaper and a member of the journalism class for three years.
She called Jarboe a good student who maintained an "A" average in journalism and took English honors classes. Jones described his writing style as "eclectic."
Jones wrote that Jarboe would take any assignment, but that he loved to write unusual stories, citing one titled The Saga of Wounded Lamb. It was a story about a freshman who was injured in an accident and had to wear a special boot around school, she wrote.
"His tone of sympathy and amusing style made this article a very popular one with the student body," Jones wrote.
She called him a strong member of the journalism staff who worked hard to train and encourage students new to the class.
"He's always fair in his decisions and kind to underclassmen," she wrote.
Jarboe initially decided to play football at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., where he also considered a career as a priest.
He had a Web site, listing himself as a financial representative. On that Web site, Jarboe wrote that he decided to continue his studies at Western Kentucky University.
"It was just too cold up there. Playing football in the middle of a blizzard was not what I had in mind," Jarboe wrote.