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Published: Wednesday, 11/2/2005

Tiffin death an apparent suicide

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TIFFIN - The death of a Tiffin man involved in a confrontation Monday that left another man critically injured appears to have been a suicide, police said yesterday.

Donald Null, 40, died at Tiffin Mercy Hospital less than 90 minutes after police were called to the West Market Street home of his estranged wife, Barbara Null.

She called police at 4:10 a.m. and reported that her husband was fighting with Claude Nighswander.

Mr. Nighswander, 51, of Liberty Township, was in critical condition yesterday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center with head injuries suffered when Null struck him with a hammer, police Chief David LaGrange said.

Null apparently stabbed himself in the chest and neck with a knife, the chief said, citing an autopsy performed by the Lucas County coroner's office.

"What they're saying right now is that the injuries, the stab wounds he had were not inconsistent with being self-inflicted," Chief LaGrange said. "It sounds like Mr. Null inflicted the injuries on Mr. Nigh-swander and then himself."

However, Seneca County Coroner Mark Akers did not rule on the cause of death yesterday, deciding to wait for more fingerprint testing on the knife by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the chief said.

According to court records, Null had convictions for domestic violence, assault, and other offenses, including a 1986 conviction in Harris County, Texas, on four counts of indecency with children.

Null had been barred from having contact with his wife, her adult daughter, Amanda Kipps, and her 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter under a civil protection order issued in September in Seneca County Common Pleas Court. A second protection order issued that month forbade Null from coming within 500 feet of two of Mrs. Null's other children, a 15-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son.

Null was convicted Sept. 20 in Seneca County Common Pleas Court of violating the protection order forbidding him from contacting his wife, Ms. Kipps, and her granddaughter.

Mr. Nighswander was charged in July, 2005, with domestic violence after sheriff's deputies alleged that he choked his brother, Donald, during an argument. The case was dismissed last month at the prosecution's request because Mr. Nighswander has terminal cancer, according to court documents.

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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