Train suicide victim was caretaker accused of abusing disabled kids, Calif. cops say

Deputies have identified a Northern California man killed on Sonoma County train tracks on Tuesday as a 68-year-old caretaker who was accused of sexually abusing disabled kids.

Keith Marcum of Rohnert Park was struck by the SMART train south of Santa Rosa around 9:30 p.m., according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies said they are “investigating the incident as a suicide as the train video clearly shows the man laid on the tracks in front of the train moments before impact.”

The death is the third in two weeks on the Sonoma and Marin County train line north of San Francisco, which opened two years ago, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Marcum represented himself as a certified psychologist and ran an in-home care center for mentally and physically disabled children and adults in Rohnert Park for roughly 30 years, until he was arrested in April on charges of continuous child sexual abuse, sodomy, cruelty to a child and posession of child pornography, according to the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety.

Police said Marcum’s arrest came after a former resident revealed a pattern of sexual and physical abuse that began 10 years ago. Two more victims came forward following Marcum’s arrest and said they were sexually abused by Marcum as well from ages 6 to 14, according to police. Police said there could be more victims.

During a search of Marcum’s home on Brenda Way in Rohnert Park, detectives discovered more than 600 images of child porn, according to police.

“Detectives called family members of the three residents who live there with Marcum to advise them of the investigation and assisted with getting them out of the house,” police said in April, adding that it was then unknown if those residents had been victims as well.

Authorities booked Marcum at the Sonoma County jail, where he was held on $765,000 bail, police said. Marcum posted bail and was released, the Press Democrat reported. He was set to appear in court to face charges on July 23, according to KSRO.

Sgt. Keith Astley said the investigation revealed Marcum’s clinical psychology bona fides were fraudulent, including claims that he had earned clinical psychology and neurophysiology doctorates, as well as education and cognitive psychology master’s degrees, according to the Press Democrat.

“We never found any documentation supporting those degrees Marcum claimed to have obtained,” Astley said, according to the newspaper.

Court records said Marcum was arrested in 1981 on child sexual assault allegations in Colorado, but got a deferred four-year sentence, the Press Democrat reports.

Marcum wrote a goodbye post on Facebook hours before his death, per the newspaper: “Farewell everyone — it’s been a wonderful life,” Marcum reportedly said.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.