Missouri ER doctor whose body was found in Arkansas lake died by suicide, officials say

Eliminating the stigma surrounding suicide

The death of a highly regarded Missouri emergency room doctor whose body was found 11 months ago in a northwest Arkansas lake has been ruled a suicide, Arkansas authorities said Thursday, in a case that fueled social media speculation about whether his disappearance had been tied to his cryptocurrency dealings.

Dr. John Forsyth, 49, was last seen nearly a year ago near the RV that he parked at the Cassville, Missouri, hospital where he worked. The father of eight who was engaged to be married didn't show up for his shift at Mercy Hospital on May 21, 2023, prompting a search. There was no sign of him until a kayaker found his body May 30 in Arkansas' Beaver Lake, about 20 miles south of the hospital.

This undated photo released by the Cassville Missouri Police Dept., shows Dr. John Forsyth.  / AP

Detectives with the Benton County, Arkansas, sheriff's office said Thursday that Forsyth died of a gunshot wound to the head. An autopsy by the chief medical examiner at the Arkansas State Crime Lab concluded the death was a suicide.

"Detectives have not been able to find any information or evidence that would lead us to dispute the medical examiner's findings," the sheriff's statement said. "If objective and relevant physical evidence becomes available, those leads will be investigated on a case-by-case basis."

The statement also said that as part of their investigation, sheriff's officials found surveillance videos of Forsyth riding a bicycle to Beaver Lake. They said the bicycle was discovered near where Forsyth's body was found.

The apparent mystery surrounding Forsyth's death - and lack of details made public - brought his case national attention. He was engaged after divorcing a previous wife twice, and his brother, Richard, described him as excited about the upcoming marriage and a new child with his fiancee and had a plane ticket to go see one of his daughters.

Online publications covering cryptocurrency quickly took note of his death. His brother said after that before his brother's death, John Forsyth had made cryptic remarks about being in danger.

Richard Forsyth told OzarksFirst there was one person who they believed was upset with his brother, but that individual was overseas, and he said he was confident the incident is not relevant to the investigation.  

"He expressed some extreme emotions towards us that he would get revenge. And ultimately his campaign failed, and we didn't hear from him again," said Richard Forsyth. "I don't see that being enough motivation for someone to cross the Atlantic and cause trouble."

Richard Forsyth did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment about the Benton County sheriff's announcement.

John and Richard Forsyth founded Onfo LLC, what they called a "network mining" venture, in 2018. At that time, Onfo's website said account holders could earn credits without putting up cash, by referring others to the company.

Richard Forsyth said after his brother's death that the two of them were looking to give large numbers of people, including poor people in developing nations, a chance to invest in decentralized, digital currency. He said the brothers believed crypto had become driven by greed, "about Lamborghinis" and "billionaires and tax evasion."

But the brothers' crypto business wasn't the only reason the case received attention as a Facebook discussion group grew to more than 1,000 members.

Only 10 days before John Forsyth's disappearance, a judge had finalized Forsyth's second divorce, requiring him to pay an additional $15,000 a month to his ex-wife and $3,999 a month to support four of their children. But the split was amicable, according to family members and the ex-wife's attorney.

A week after John Forsyth vanished, his sister, Tiffany Andelin, wrote on Facebook that he had "disappeared, seemingly into thin air."

"I'm grieving, I'm afraid, and it feels like the world has tipped into sheer chaos," she wrote.

The sheriff's department said the doctor was last seen walking toward his RV in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital in Cassville, 40 miles west of the Ozark Mountains tourist destination of Branson, Missouri.

But he was reported to have disappeared from the parking lot of a public swimming pool in Cassville, about a mile from the hospital where he worked, which hadn't yet opened for the summer season. Richard Forsyth has said his brother's car was found there, unlocked, with two cellphones, a laptop and important documents inside.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.

For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email info@nami.org.


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