Former Slidell official kills himself on eve of son’s trial

Reinhard Dearing, who served as chief of staff to former Slidell Mayor Sam Caruso for many years but in recent months had been battling “internal demons,” committed suicide last week, officials said Sunday.

Dearing suffered a beating last year, allegedly at the hands of his son, Bradford, who was booked with second-degree battery and cruelty to the infirm in connection with the incident. The younger Dearing’s trial is slated to start Monday.

Interim Coroner Pramod Menon confirmed Sunday that Dearing, 66, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Coroner’s Office responded to a call Friday afternoon, and an autopsy was performed Saturday, Menon said.

Reinhard Dearing “did a lot of good for the people of Slidell,” Caruso said, describing his former aide as a “brilliant” man.

Caruso said he had been in touch with Dearing as recently as Tuesday, when the two talked by phone.

“He was completely sensible and coherent,” Caruso said. He sounded like “anything but a man who was thinking about suicide,” he said. But calls Wednesday and Thursday went unanswered, he said, and Caruso got worried. On Friday morning, he heard what had happened.

“I knew he was struggling with so many serious things,” Caruso said, adding that he was still “slightly surprised” at the news. Caruso would not comment on Dearing’s struggles but ruled out physical health problems.

Bradford Dearing, 30, was arrested in May and had his probation on an earlier DWI conviction revoked after police said he beat his father so badly that Reinhard Dearing required hospitalization with serious facial injuries. During the investigation, the elder Dearing told police that his son had beaten him but that he could not remember exactly what happened.

The younger Dearing told police that he hit his father only once and in self-defense, according to a police report.

Bradford Dearing, 30, had a history of trouble with the law. He was convicted of DWI in 2006 and 2013. In January 2004, Baton Rouge police arrested him on a count of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a friend, Keegan Charles Monahan, also of Slidell, but an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury declined to indict him for the crime. Dearing said Monahan had shot himself.

Caruso said Dearing had spoken to him of his son’s approaching trial but hadn’t been specific about it.

“He had mentioned to me that the trial was coming up, but he didn’t tell me when,” Caruso said.