In December of 2015, Glee fans were shocked to hear that Mark Salling, who played Noah Puckerman, was the target of an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children task force. It was alleged that Salling had a collection of child pornography, and police raided his home.
The raid uncovered Salling was in possession of more than 54,000 photos and videos of child pornography, involving prepubescent minors. He was arrested immediately but was released on $20,000 bail.
Almost one year after he was charged, Salling said that he was "pleading guilty because I am guilty of the charges." The actor avoided a longer sentence of at least 20 years and a lifetime of supervised parole due to his guilty plea. He agreed to serve four to seven years in prison as well as register as a sex offender. He was not allowed to have any form of communication with anyone under the age of 18 unless the minor's parent or legal guardian was present.
The deal, which must still be signed by a federal judge, also entails that he will spend 20 years under supervised release, meaning his internet usage will be monitored. Once he is out of prison, he must attend mandatory counselling and stay 100 feet away from areas highly frequented by children, such as schools, swimming pools, playgrounds, etc.
Today, Salling was found dead.
TMZ is reporting that Mark Salling was found at the Los Angeles River in Sunland, which is the area where he lived. Though it is believed to be a suicide, the manner of his death has not been released.
Suicide is a likely guess, as it is not the first time that Salling had attempted to take his own life. Two weeks after his guilty plea, it was revealed that Salling had attempted to commit suicide in August, before he entered the plea. He cut his wrists before "freaking out" and screaming for his roommate, who found him bleeding, according to TMZ.
Salling's death comes just two months before he was set to be sentenced in the child pornography case. It was expected that he would receive four to seven years in prison.
Not many people close to the actor had commented on his situation, but in 2016 his ex-girlfriend and former Glee co-star Naya Riviera wrote in her memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, that she was not "totally shocked" by the charges.
"But still — WTF? Then I had no doubt that God really did have my back along the way," she added.
[UPDATE: 1:54 PM EST]
TMZ has confirmed with local police that Salling was found near a little league baseball field. They were sent to do a "welfare check" on the actor when they were somehow led to the field. How they knew to check there is unclear.
According to police, Salling's body was found at the field and he had been dead for some time. The cause of death is being labelled as "suicide by hanging" by law enforcement, but no other details have been released at this time.
[UPDATE: 2:18 PM EST]
Law enforcement say Salling's body was found hanging from a tree. A family member went to the LAPD station at 3am on Tuesday to report Salling as a missing person, which is why the police went to do a welfare check.
Homicide detectives are at the scene to rule out foul play.