Suicide linked to war protest; memorial slated here today

March 23, 2007

The Shelby County coroner has ruled that the death of Frankfort native John Berry was a suicide after he set himself on fire at the Bagdad Baptist Church.
According to the coroners report, Berry, 58, died from gasoline immolation at approximately 4 a.m. Monday in the church parking lot.
"The cause and manner of death is pretty straightforward," said Coroner Ronald Waldridge II.
Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong agreed that it appears to be a suicide. He said the investigation will be completed early next week.
"We dont see anything that indicates foul play," Armstrong said.
According to Thursdays obituary in The State Journal, Berry was a graduate of Franklin County High School and a Navy veteran. He was a peace activist and according to the Shelby County Sentinel News, his suicide was a protest against the war in Iraq.
Berry had moved to Cincinnati more than 20 years ago and drove a taxi. He had been visiting his mother in Frankfort for several weeks before he died, said neighbor Edward Harrod. His mother, Mildred, taught science at Franklin County High School for many years, said former colleague Rosie Weddington.
A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m.
Rev. Jackson Brewer said the Berry family had been members of his church since they moved to Frankfort in the 1950s. Although he had moved away, Berry and his children were still registered church members, Brewer said.
According to his children, Berry suffered from a bipolar disorder.
"They said it was something he struggled with his entire life," Brewer said.