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Suspect in Bend woman’s disappearance, death committed suicide, investigators say

Booking photo for Bryan Penner from the Deschutes County Jail

BEND, Ore. – The primary suspect in a deceased Bend woman’s disappearance killed himself in the Deschutes County Jail last month, District Attorney John Hummel confirmed on Wednesday.

Another inmate found Bryan Penner dead in his cell on March 11. A legal review into his death determined that Penner died of suicide by hanging.

Penner was in jail as the suspect in the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend, Sara Gomez, who went missing back in February. Her remains were found southeast of Bend nearly a week after Penner’s suicide.

Gomez had an active restraining order against Penner, and authorities described their previous relationship as “abusive.”

Authorities said they found a note on Penner’s bunk that said he denied killing Gomez. The note also claimed they had gotten back together before Sara went missing, something that Dist. Atty. Hummel calls a “disturbing” and “false.”

More from DA Hummel:

“I continue to be respectful of Bryan Penner’s family as they grieve his death and disdainful of Bryan Penner for what he did to Sara Gomez. I’ve previously expressed my contempt for Mr. Penner killing Sara. My contempt deepens because in his suicide note he had the gall to claim Sara got back together with him before he killed her.

"In Sara’s final months of life, she fled an abusive relationship, filed for a restraining order, and began a new relationship. Penner could not accept that Sara had moved on with her life and this is why he brutally murdered her. Shame on him for thinking he could re-write the final chapter of her life.”

An autopsy is being conducted on Gomez, however authorities have not received the results.

Investigators said they continue to think that Penner killed Gomez, and that he acted alone.

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