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Police: School Superintendent Killed His Son Then Himself

UPDATED AT 5:20 P.M. - Police say a school principal killed his disabled son and fatally shot himself in western Michigan.

The bodies of George Heckman and his 28-year-old son Grant were found Monday night in a van on a rural road in Montcalm County's Bushnell Township. Autopsies were performed Tuesday.

George Heckman was principal at Pewamo Elementary School. The 52-year-old was supposed to become the new superintendent of the Pewamo-Westphalia district but failed to appear at a school board meeting Monday night.

The current superintendent, Garth Cooper, says Heckman's son had "severe physical disabilities." He says George Heckman's death is "tragic" for his family and a "great loss" for the community. The Heckmans lived in Westphalia in Clinton County.

UPDATED AT 5:00 P.M.WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids reports that incoming Pewamo-Westphalia School District Superintendent George Heckman killed his 28-year-old son Grant then himself on Monday. Also, the district said on its Facebook page that all activities are canceled on Wednesday and Thursday.

UPDATED AT 12:20 P.M. - Pewamo-Westphalia School District officials are considering what to do next in the wake of Monday’s death of incoming Superintendent George Heckman.

Heckman was the Pewamo Elementary School principal chosen to replace Dr. Garth Cooper as Superintendent of the Pewamo-Westphalia School District. Cooper is taking a similar job with Allendale schools next week.

The school board postponed a scheduled Monday night meeting when Heckman failed to appear. He and his son Grant were later found dead.

Cooper says the school board will meet tonight and is expected to name business manager Jayne Wieber as interim superintendent.

All activities in Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools will be canceled today, due to the deaths of elementary Principal George Heckman and his 28-year-old son, Grant Heckman. 

They were found unresponsive in a vehicle in Carson City 7:45 p.m. Monday.

Autopsies were planned Tuesday.

Details about what led to their deaths weren't immediately released.

Superintendent Garth Cooper said that the search for Heckman intensified after he didn't show up to a Monday school board meeting. He was scheduled to take over this summer as superintendent of the school district. Cooper is leaving the district to lead Allendale Public Schools starting July 1.

The school's Facebook page posted about the cancellation last night, stating that counseling services will be available for students who are interested.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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