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St. Clairsville Community Mourns After High School Teacher Found Dead

St. Clairsville High School is mourning the loss of one of its teachers who was found dead in his home Monday.

J. Michael Padgett, 35, has taught at St. Clairsville High School at the freshman and sophomore levels for the past four years. Sources say the man, who was a Wheeling native but lived in Cambridge, was a special education teacher.

Police said they do not believe the death was suspicious, although officials have not determined the cause of death.

“We were called to do a well-being check on Mr. Padgett,” said Tim Ferguson of the Cambridge Police Department. “The family had not spoken to him all weekend and he hadn’t shown up for work on Monday. We went to his apartment. We ended up getting maintenance to let us in, and Mr. Padgett was found deceased inside his residence.”

At the high school, plans were put in place to help students, faculty and staff deal with the sudden loss.

“We just heard last night,” St. Clairsville Superintendent Walt Skaggs said Tuesday. “We met this morning with our counselors and we brought in our counselors and local pastors this morning. We met with individual students that had direct contact with him, contacted their parents and offered counseling and different avenues for them to grieve.

“This morning we had a moment of silence,” he said. “(The students) are doing as well as can be expected, considering the circumstances. Our prayers go out to his family as they work through this trying time.”

Padgett was a 2001 graduate of Wheeling Park High School and was a 2006 Wheeling Jesuit University graduate. He was a lover of music and was often seen spending time with family, his obituary says.

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