The last time the A&E reality series Storage Wars was making headlines, a former cast member had filed a lawsuit against the network, claiming that the action depicted on the show -- from the items found in the storage units to the bidding process -- was faked. Today the news related to the show is much, much worse: Storage Wars star Mark Balelo, 40, was found dead of apparent suicide on Monday.
Just two days before, Balelo was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine. TMZ reports that Balelo was found dead in his car, which was parked and running in the garage at his auction house in Simi Valley, CA. It's believed that, distraught over his legal troubles, Balelo succumbed to self-inflicted carbon monoxide poisoning.
Balelo had been in several episodes of the reality show, and once helped return a rare Superman comic book valued at $1 million to its owner, actor Nicolas Cage. Balelo owned a company that purchased the contents of storage lockers and liquidated their assets, which is how he came across the comic -- a full decade after it was stolen from Cage.
Two months ago, Balelo told RadarOnline that while he did have a 2009 drug conviction, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time during that arrest (for which he pled guilty to the felony charge of sale or transport of a controlled substance):
Friends of mine were using a hotel room that was rented in my name. They were partying in there, I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t even there. It’s not a big deal. I’m just trying to do the best I can.
At the time, his fiancee Elizabeth Metzidis told Radar,
I want people to know he is a very good person who was just in a bad situation.
She added that he had a "heart of gold," and that he'd worked hard to raise money for charity to help her autistic son.
Balelo was arrested over the weekend for alleged possession of a controlled substance, and he was reportedly distraught after being released from jail. One of Balelo's employees found his body Monday morning.
Man, what a tragic piece of news. It's hard to know what the whole story is here, and the official cause of death won't be known until after the autopsy is conducted. Whatever the details are behind Mark Balelo's sudden death, it's a horribly sad situation for the people who cared for him.
Have you ever seen Mark Balelo on Storage Wars? Are you shocked by this news?
Image via A&E