Storage Wars star Mark Balelo was found dead on Monday of an apparent suicide, two days after he was arrested for drug possession, according to TMZ. With Balelo's autopsy getting processed, authorities haven't officially confirmed the cause of death, but his tragic demise shines a light on the behind-the-scenes world of the popular reality show.
Here's what you should know about Balelo's career, life and death.
1. He Was Found Dead in His Car
TMZ reported that Balelo killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning. The 40-year-old reality star was found dead in his car, which was still running, by an employee in the auction house garage. Deputy Senior Examiner Armando Chavez declined to show any information on the cause of death until the autopsy is released, according to the Reuters. But gas poisoning seemed likely given the evidence.
2. He Was Recently Arrested for Drugs
Last Saturday, Mark Balelo was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. There have been no reports on the charges Balelo was facing due to his arrest.
3. He Was Scheduled To Appear in Court
According to the Ventura County Star, Mark Balelo was scheduled to appear in court, possibly for the drug charge he faced two days prior to his death. County records stated that his court hearing was scheduled for February 19.
4. Mark Told His Fiancee He Felt Self-Destructive
After he was released from jail, the Storage Wars star called his fiancee and asked her to meet him at his office. He was feeling stressed and told her he was thinking of harming himself. TMZ reported that the couple met for a few hours and took a four-hour nap.
5. The Fiancee Saw Mark Feeling Better Before His Death
Before leaving Mark at the office, his fiancee, Elisabeth Metzidis, found him in good condition after waking up from his nap. Elizabeth last left the office on Sunday evening, a few hours before Mark's apparent suicide. Elisabeth was devastated after hearing the news. According to HollywoodLife, she wrote on Mark's Facebook page, thanking the fans for their support, saying, “Thank you to everyone for all your thoughts and kind words. Mark lived for his friends and family and would so appreciate everyone here for their love. We are truly and completely devastated by this. Mark was everything. EM.” She also posted this on his page:
6. Balelo Had a Prior Criminal Record
Balelo's arrest last Saturday wasn't the first time he was booked. Radar reported last December that Mark spent 45 days in jail after violating his probation on a previous drug charge. That arrest goes back to 2009 when he was charged for selling or transporting a controlled substance. At the time, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and was given three years probation. However, he violated the probation in 2011 by transporting a firearm found in his storage locker.
7. He Had a Custody Battle for His Kids
To add to the drug charges, Mark Balelo was caught leaving Florida in order to fight a custody battle for his children. “I have a son who has autism and he’s been very active raising money for that cause. At auctions, he’ll donate a (storage) lot for the cause,” Balelo told Radar.
Elisabeth spoke to Radar about Mark's troubles and how he was trying to turn his life around. “It’s a bad situation and he’s trying to get custody of his kids,” she said.
8. Mark Was a Favorite on Storage Wars
Even though he wasn't considered the main buyer on the show, Balelo appeared frequently in Seasons 2 and 3 of Storage Wars. He was nicknamed Rico Suave on the show for his rich flamboyant style, carrying his man-purse with $50,000 in order to outbid rivals. Balelo became well known after helping actor Nicholas Cage retrieve his rare copy of a 1938 Action Comics book that was stolen from his storage locker. The Superman comic book was valued at $1 million, according to VCStar.
9. He Owned a Company and Gaming Store
Besides appearing in Storage Wars, Balelo also owned a business called Balelo, Inc. The company is a large wholesale liquidator, a distributor and online retailer selling products from clothing and toys to electronics and hardware. Its online store can be found on eBay selling items worldwide. Balelo also managed a game store at Simi Valley called The Game Exchange, which sold video games as well as host tournaments for gamers alike. A local paper reported that the store, which opened in 1991, went through some new renovations to become a state-of-the-art facility while maintaining a "family atmosphere."
10. He Was Planning to Create His Own Reality Show
Balelo was apparently a fan of his alter-ego on Storage Wars and wrote about his times on the program on his Facebook page. He liked it so much that he wanted to do his own show.
I fly private planes, race cars and love going to Las Vegas and put on a show. I own several businesses and participate in many TV shows including Storage Wars. I am currently working on a new reality show of my own.
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