Greg O’Dell, Eastern Michigan University police chief and former director of the University’s Department of Public Safety, was found dead today near Huron River Drive, in what is believed to be a suicide, according to police. He was 54 years old.
In an interview Friday evening, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derrick Jackson said one of O’Dell’s family members called the Ann Arbor Police Department at about noon Friday to say they found what appeared to be a suicide note.
Jackson said AAPD immediately began an investigation to find O’Dell and later discovered his car parked on the 3000 block of Huron River Drive in Scio Township. After canvassing the area, Jackson said they found O’Dell’s body, with the cause of death being what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
O’Dell left EMU in August before becoming chief of DPS, where he worked until the end of November when he announced he would be returning to EMU. At the time, O’Dell told The Michigan Daily that his leaving the University was “strictly a personal decision,” and he enjoyed his time at the University.
“I have nothing bad to say about Michigan. I love Michigan and I enjoyed working with the people there,” O’Dell said in November. “I just felt for me personally, it was a better fit for me to return to the job that I had at Eastern.”
Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin released a statement to the media Friday afternoon offering her condolences to O’Dells family and the community for his death.
“We are profoundly shocked and saddened by this news,” Martin said in the statement. “Chief Greg O’Dell’s death is an enormous loss to Eastern Michigan University and the Washtenaw County area. Chief O’Dell was (a) wonderful man who was deeply admired for his tremendous contributions to the Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan communities.
“He was respected both as a caring person and as a highly accomplished police officer,” Martin continued in the statement. “He was a beloved and key member of the leadership team of Eastern and I will personally deeply miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this very difficult time.”
Roy Wilbanks, chair of the Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents, also released a statement Friday regarding O’Dell’s death.
“Greg O’Dell was a professional in every sense of the word and I am deeply saddened by this tragic news,” Wilbanks said in the statement. “He was highly valued for his leadership of public safety efforts at Eastern, where he made a tremendous impact in a few short years. Chief O’Dell will be missed by all of us here at Eastern. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
The University of Michigan also expressed its sorrow for O’Dell and his family.
“All of us at the University of Michigan express our deepest condolences to the family of Greg O’Dell,” the statement reads. “We also express our sincere sympathy to his many friends, colleagues, and to the entire law enforcement community. Greg was a good man. He will be missed.”
O’Dell is survived by his wife and two daughters.