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Robert McLean's body found at Shelbyville Church

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Robert McLean's body was discovered Sept. 25, 2007, at the rear of First Christian Church in Shelbyville, Tenn. (File photo)
Robert McLean’s body was discovered early Tuesday morning behind the First Christian Church, the Shelbyville chief of police confirmed.

“He died from a gunshot wound to the head by a .38 pistol,” Police Chief Austin Swing said.

The body of McLean, 59, was discovered by the church's pastor, the Rev. Bryan Elliott. Officers said the last time anyone heard from McLean was about 11 p.m. He was found in a grassy area behind the church near the rear parking lot. His vehicle was parked nearby.

A suicide note was left. An investigating officer said the note indicated McLean had committed suicide and included a phone number to notify a family member. No foul play is suspected. The note also included information about funeral arrangements.

The case is still under investigation, Swing said.

McLean, of Charleston Court, was the target of an investigation by several federal agencies and had been forced into involuntary bankruptcy by creditors, numbering in the hundreds, who claimed he owed them more than $20 million that had been invested with him.

A high-profile philanthropist, McLean's financial troubles became apparent in the early summer when he was named in seven lawsuits claiming he failed to pay investors who held personal promissory notes. The largest lawsuit sought $8.9 million in payments for Ron Vannatta, Bette R. and Martha Vannatta, all of Shelbyville, Melissa Vannatta Keck of Boston and the First Christian Church Scholarship Fund in Shelbyville.

Federal agents from the U.S. Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant on McLean’s Murfreesboro investment office July 20 on South Church Street.

McLean was eventually forced into involuntary bankrupcty proceedings.

Sales of five homes and personal property of McLean will be used to pay some 370 creditors who filed claims against him in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Bankruptcy Trustee Riober Waldschmidt said a meeting with creditors scheduled for Wednesday will still be held and the case will "still be administered just as any other case would be."

Waldschmidt said he would give a report on the status of the case.

McLean had been scheduled to appear to address creditors' questions.

Documents filed in the court showed McLean owned five homes valued at $3.8 million, enough to pay the largest credit claim of $3.245 million sought by creditor Charles A. Coffey of Knoxville.

Several creditors filed more than $20 million in claims against McLean in state courts, but the federal bankruptcy court is now handling the assets of McLean’s that will be distributed to the creditors.

Many of the 370 claims did not list an amount. The lowest amount is $8 sought by a newspaper.

McLean listed five homes with mortgages from Countrywide and several banks:
• His former $638,000 home at 1455 Charleston Court in Murfreesboro.
• A $1.5 million vacation home on Center Hill Lake in Sparta.
• A $1.4 million vacation condo in Destin, Fla.
• A $170,000 rental property on state Route 96 East (Lascassas Highway).
• A rented condo on East Northfield Boulevard.

The trustee also listed among assets $800,000 in bank stock.

McLean’s personal property will be sold during an auction Oct. 20 at the National Guard Armory in Murfreesboro.

Some of the property for sale includes a framed Robert E. Lee framed lithograph, Earl Scruggs Mastertone banjo and signed handbill, MTSU helmet, grandfather clock, banjos, guitars, a Steinway piano, Baldwin grand piano, upright piano, 2003 Lincoln limousine, 1998 Jeep Wrangler, a 1980 MGB sports car and $2,500 worth of unopened liquor.

McLean’s creditors include the MTSU Foundation Board of Trustees for $167,747, and for unknown claims the Country Music Foundation, Friends of Music at MTSU, the U.S. Postal Inspectors Office, the Internal Revenue Service, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, Steinway Piano Gallery, the state attorney general’s office in behalf of MTSU, individuals, family members, utilities, credit cards, banks, his accountant, attorneys, governments, jewelers, a dentist, doctor and florist.
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Fraud, Murfreesboro, Robert McLean, Suicide
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Members Opinions:
September 25, 2007 at 12:00am
So sad. What a wasted life.May God Bless his soul.
September 25, 2007 at 12:00am
Prayers to the whole McLean family. I am truly saddened by your loss. While there may be others who will post to the negative side of the issue and say that he was a coward, etc. to allegedly take his own life, what is the absolute saddest fact is that satan got his way. Every penny that is owed is absolutely trivial in light of the fact that McLean chose to believe a lie from hell --- that killing himself was the only choice he had. Nothing and noone is worth killing yourself over. Freedom from ALL CONDEMNATION is found in Christ. May the McLean family find some comfort by only leaning on Him.
September 25, 2007 at 12:00am
You are right, satan got his way. Very well said. My prayers are with his family and all those associated. May God grant his Peace, that surpasses all understanding.
September 25, 2007 at 12:00am
What a great loss it is to my wife and I of a good friend who has done so much for us and never asked anything in return.We lost along with everyone else but thought he was a stronger person.Taking of ones life is not the answer to what he has done to so many friends and family. We will miss you Bob.
September 25, 2007 at 12:00am
I'm sure there were many good things about this man that we will never know about because it wasn't news worthy, or wouldn't sell news papers. My heart goes out to this family. I pray that God will give them the strength and courage to face the sad days ahead, and that He will soon heal the pain of their loss.
September 25, 2007 at 12:00am
Didn't know the man, but he took a cowards way out, which in my book meant he was not a good man. If he stole your nest egg like he did a lot of people, I am certain your opinion would be different. Don't try to make a saint out of a crook. I am certain Al Capone did a lot of good too, but in the end he was no more than a crook.
September 26, 2007 at 12:00am
In order for me to keep up with what is going on 'back home' I read this paper regularly. I have kept up with this story line. I didn't know Bob or his family, one can only guess at the emotions this family must be living right now. Sadness beyond words at the extreme loss at the never-again opportunities to come to terms with all those unanswered questions. Get through these next few days and lean on the only One who can give you strength. Then live each day, one day at a time, as you plow through the remains of his life. Maybe you can come to a peace, even if you never get an understanding.
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