Man facing sexual abuse charges killed by SMART train north of Rohnert Park
A Rohnert Park man charged in May with sexually and physically abusing disabled children and adults at his in-home care operation was struck and killed by a SMART train Tuesday night.
Authorities think Keith Marcum, 68, took his own life, making him the third fatality on the passenger rail line in less than two weeks. Video from the train showed Marcum lying on the tracks moments before it approached him at about 9:30 p.m., Sonoma County Sheriff’s officials said in a statement Wednesday.
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit train was traveling north when the conductor spotted the man on the tracks roughly 15 yards south of the Scenic Avenue crossing north of Rohnert Park, said Jennifer McGill, SMART chief of police. The conductor pulled the emergency brake, sounded the train horn and flashed lights before hitting Marcum, she said. Trains in that area run at speeds of up to 79 mph.
“From our perspective at this time, the man was intentionally trying to get hit,” McGill said. “This is another case of someone having a clear intention of taking their own life.”
Gabby Trejo, a Scenic Avenue resident close to the SMART tracks, said the quiet rural neighborhood was disrupted Tuesday night by a blaring train horn.
“We thought that was strange. It usually doesn’t make any noise,” Trejo said of the train. “We just let it go, and then after a little while we saw a bunch of flashlights on the side because it was super dark. Then we saw a body that was covered. It was crazy.”
For 30 years, Marcum operated an in-home care facility for mentally and physically disabled adults and children at his Brenda Way home. Two months ago, he was arrested by Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety officers after three people accused him of sexual and physical abuse spanning several years.
Rohnert Park police started an investigation in April after the first victim, a former patient at the home, came forward accusing Marcum of repeated sexual and physical abuse that began about 10 years ago. Two more people reported similar allegations to police following Marcum’s arrest.
Sonoma County prosecutors filed 14 felony charges against Marcum in May based on witness interviews, police said. Court records show they included counts of sodomy, forced lewd acts on a child, continuous sexual abuse of a child and possessing child pornography.
Marcum was released from the county jail after posting $765,000 bail. Three patients living in Marcum’s house were removed at the time of his arrest, after police searched his home and uncovered 600 images of child pornography, Astley said.
The case against Marcum will be suspended, said Aaron Johnson, deputy chief at the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety. However, he said, any additional victims that come forward will be connected to necessary services.
“There are two sides of it. You want the justice for the victims but you also want to make sure that they now get the services and support they need,” Johnson said. “It is hard because this individual (Marcum) isn’t going to go through the judicial process.”
Marcum’s Santa Rosa attorney Jane Gaskell did not return calls Wednesday for comment.
During the investigation, police determined Marcum’s certifications as a clinical psychologist were fraudulent, said Sgt. Keith Astley, lead officer on the case. Investigators also reached more witnesses that gave police additional accounts detailing the abuse that occurred in Marcum’s home, he said.
He claimed to have earned multiple degrees from the University of Colorado that included doctorates in clinical psychology and neurophysiology, and master’s degrees in educational psychology and cognitive psychology, Astley said.
“We never found any documentation supporting those degrees Marcum claimed to have obtained,” the sergeant said.
In 1981, Marcum was arrested for alleged sexual assault on a child in Longmont, Colorado. He received a deferred sentence of four years, according to court records.
Hours before his death, Marcum posted a farewell message on his Facebook page that drew concerned comments.
“Farewell everyone - it’s been a wonderful life,” Marcum’s post said about 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Marcum’s death marked the fourth apparent suicide on the SMART line since the public transit system began operating nearly two years ago. Overall, he’s the seventh person to be killed by a train.
Two weeks ago on consecutive days, a pedestrian and cyclist were hit and killed by SMART trains at the same Rohnert Park crossing at Golf Course Drive near Commerce Boulevard. On June 27, a 30-year-old woman who walked under the street gate crossing arm was struck as she tried to beat the coming train. The next morning, a 66-year-old man riding a bicycle while wearing headphones was struck. Investigators think both incidents were accidental, and official rulings are expected later this week.