Police: 'Paradise Hotel 2' contestant Nathan Clutter's death a suicide
By Steve Rogers, 01/17/2008
Although the show's broadcast networks have stated he was killed in a climbing accident, Nathan Clutter, one of 11 singles appearing in MyNetworkTV and Fox Reality Channel's upcoming Paradise Hotel revival, actually died in an apparent suicide, according to police documents obtained by Reality TV World.
"Upon completion of the investigation of this incident, all evidence, scene conditions and conversations with [Clutter's] uncle... concludes that this incident of Sudden Death was from the result of [Clutter] taking his own life," Randall County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Byron Towndrow wrote in an October 18 report that ended the Texas county organization's investigation into Clutter's October 12 death. "This case can be closed. There were no findings of foul play [and] all evidence and findings show that [Clutter's death] was a product of his own demise."
According to the Randall County Sheriff's Office incident report, Clutter -- a 26-year-old Danville, IL native who had been living in Phoenix, AZ and working as a sales manager before Paradise Hotel 2 began filming late last summer -- was killed after jumping off an Alltel cellular telephone tower in Amarillo, TX early in the morning on October 12.
Video surveillance footage from the site showed Clutter's silver 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora enter the property at approximately 5:10AM. Shortly after that, he is believed to have draped a sweater over a barbed-wire fence that surrounded the tower, scaled the fence, and then climbed the cellular tower and jumped to his death.
Clutter's body was found 79 feet from the base of the tower inside the fence the sweater was found draped over, which Towndrow termed "a considerable distance even if [Clutter] fell from the top of the tower of over 100 feet and in a sustained wind of 35 MPH." However according to FCC cellular tower records, the three towers at the Amarillo site range between 78 and 133 meters in height, which would indicate Clutter could have jumped from far higher than 100 feet. The body caused "an impact indentation of 6 inches" in the surrounding soil, according to Towndrow, who cited the indentation as further evidence that Clutter fell from "a considerable height."
Although he is believed to have died early in the morning, Alltel employees only discovered Clutter's body shortly before 5PM. His vehicle was still parked nearby. Given the cause of death seemed obvious and there were no signs of theft or assault, an autopsy was not ordered. Rigor mortis was also consistent with a death that occurred between 5:15 and 5:40AM.
Paradise Hotel 2 contestant Nathan Clutter (Photo credit Michael Becker/Fox Reality Channel)
No suicide note was found on either Clutter's body or in his vehicle, however according to the incident report, Clutter's family said he'd been "dealing with bouts of depression" recently.
"The family believed [Clutter] to be suffering from bi-polar/manic depressant behavior, however he [had] never been diagnosed as such," Sgt. Tom Shipman wrote after speaking Clutter's grandfather via telephone late on October 12.
Clutter's uncle reiterated the grandfather's comments when he arrived in Amarillo the following day.
"[He] explained that his nephew had been dealing with bouts of depression and that his family had wired $400.00 cash money to him in Arizona and talked him into coming back home to Illinois, so that they could get him checked into the V.A. hospital, and hopefully get some help with his depression," wrote Towndrow.
According to the incident report, Clutter's wallet, keys, dog, $236 in cash, and numerous other personal belongings -- including tennis shoes, a mountain bike, a MP3 player, a satellite radio receiver, books, CD's, and dog treats -- were found inside his Arizona-registered vehicle. The trunk also contained more personal belongings, including a clothing-filled suitcase, bags of dog food, and a boombox-style stereo.
The dog, which appeared to have been eating and drinking from a dog bowl set on the floorboard behind the driver's seat, was still in the vehicle when Clutter's body was discovered.
Paradise Hotel 2 is scheduled to premiere on Monday, February 4 at 9PM ET/PT on MyNetworkTV before a "steamier" TV-MA version of the same episode airs at 1AM ET the same night on Fox Reality Channel.
"As Paradise Hotel 2 comes to air, we are saddened by the loss of Nathan Clutter, who passed away on October 12 of last year," the networks stated in a January 7 statement about Clutter's death. "The cast and crew, as well as Mentorn Productions and the entire Fox Reality Channel and MyNetworkTV families, join Nathan's loved ones in mourning his loss and we hope that they are able to find some comfort in knowing that he touched everyone he encountered with his thoughtfulness and decency."
When contacted by Reality TV World last week, a Fox Cable Networks spokesperson had confirmed an earlier Broadcasting & Cable report that had stated Clutter "was killed in a climbing accident" that occurred several weeks after the show's production ended but declined to reveal additional details.
Despite Clutter's passing, "his family and producers decided to keep his scenes in the full run of the [show's] episodes," according to the Broadcasting & Cable report.
Paradise Hotel 2 completed production during the third week of September.