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Police Probe Suicide, Arson Case

Staff Reports

POWNAL, Vt. — A Pownal man apparently set fire to his home before killing himself on Wednesday night.

State police and the office of the chief medical examiner are investigating the death of Hans J. Schiermeyer, 53, of 519 State Line Drive. Schiermeyer's death is believed to have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound that occurred during the evening of June 2.

Schiermeyer's body and a firearm were found by firefighters battling the blaze at the single-family home off Route 7 near the Massachusetts border.

The fire was reported at about 9:30 p.m. and firefighters found the home completely engulfed, according to state police. Nobody else was discovered at Schiermeyer's home, which was completely destroyed by fire.

According to Det. Sgt. Robert Patten: "Shortly before the reported fire, Schiermeyer's wife contacted state police, seeking an escort to her home. Schiermeyer's wife conveyed that while returning from an out-of-country trip, Schiermeyer had threatened in a telephone conversation that he was going to set their house on fire and kill himself in the process."

An autopsy was to be conducted Thursday.

Pownal firefighters were reportedly aided by Bennington and Williamstown, Mass., fire departments.

Schiermeyer had been a pilot for the Steiner family in Williamstown at one time. He held an airline transport pilot license, the highest rated license for a pilot, and was given a second class medical rating in December.

A native of Rietberg, Germany, he had become an avid skydiver in recent years. On his profile on Skydivernetwork.com, he describes his relationship status as "It's complicated."

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