, Uintah County Jail
David Papadakos, 43, of Vernal, was arrested Thursday, Oct. 25. 2012, for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and forcible sexual abuse. Papadakos, who is the assistant principal at Vernal Middle School, is accused of sexually abusing at teenager who was not a student at the school.

VERNAL — A former assistant principal from Vernal who was facing child sex abuse charges has been found dead.

On Sunday, family members reported that David Alan Papadakos was missing and suicidal, according to authorities in Uintah County.

Friends and family were still searching for the 43-year-old when his body was discovered inside his car Thursday by a couple exploring a side road off state Route 121 between Vernal and Lapoint, authorities said.

Papadakos was the assistant principal at Vernal Middle School when he was charged in October with two counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and 10 counts of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony.

The alleged abuse took place over the course of about two years and involved a relative, according to court records.

Papadakos was hired as a teacher in the Uintah School District in August 1997, according to Lee Gagon, the district's director of human resources. He became assistant principal at Vernal Middle School before the beginning of the current academic year.  

Papadakos was due in court on Jan. 24 for a preliminary hearing. His attorney, Susanne Gustin, said she was "stunned" to learn of her client's death when contacted by the Deseret News.

"I knew that he was missing," she said. "I'm very, very sad at this development."

Papadakos' body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

E-mail: [email protected], Twitter: GeoffLiesik