Thursday June 3, 2010

POWNAL, Vt. -- Firefighters discovered the body of Hans J. Schiermeyer, 53, while battling the fire that destroyed his home Wednesday night, state police confirmed this morning.

Authorities believe he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after setting his house on fire, although the case is still being investigated by state police and the office of the chief medical examiner. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Shortly before the reported fire, Schiermeyer's wife contacted state police, seeking an escort to her home, according to a news release from the Shaftsbury barracks this morning.

"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," police said in the release.

Bennington and North Bennington firefighters responded at 9:24 p.m. to the reported fire at Schiermeyer's house on State Line Drive Extension, just over the Williamstown, Mass., border. Emergency personnel found the house in flames and Schiermeyer dead from an apparent gunshot wound; a firearm was discovered at the scene, police said.

Nobody else was discovered at the home, which was completely destroyed by fire.