Associated Press, August 20, 1998

Teen assigned to juvenile boot camp found in apparent suicide

BARTOW - A teenager sent to the Polk County Juvenile Boot Camp three weeks ago was found hanging in his cell after an apparent suicide, authorities said.

Chad Andrew Franza, 16, of Avon Park, was found hanging from boot laces that were tied to an air conditioning vent in his cell.

A guard made the discovery Monday night about 45 minutes after lights were turned out in the wing where Franza and 16 others were confined in individual cells.

"During his time here he had no history of discipline problems and had given no indications of any suicide intent," said Capt. Danny Drew, the boot camp commander.

But Franza's family said Tuesday that the teen was depressed and the signs might have gone unnoticed or unchecked by the boot camp.

Franza was sent to the camp after a series of arrests. The first was in October 1997, when he brought a pistol to school and later threatened a witness in the case, according to arrest reports.

He was arrested again in December after he was caught with a pistol. In February, he was charged with trespassing on school property.

The sheriff's office, the state Department of Juvenile Justice and the state attorney's office are investigating the death, which Drew said is the first suicide at the camp in its four year history.

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