"Storage Wars" has lost one of its popular auctioneers to suicide, reports state. Mark Balelo was found dead Monday, Feb. 11 at his auction house only two days after being arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
Balelo became famous after finding and returning a rare comic book valued at $1 million to owner Nicolas Cage. It had been missing for over 10 years when Balelo bought the storage locker at an auction. Inside was the missing comic, which he promptly returned to Cage.
He then opened his own business, Balelo Inc., which was a liquidation merchandise business. Balelo was arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance at the business and was scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 19. Before he could, though, Balelo allegedly killed himself using carbon monoxide from his vehicle.
Balelo was found dead by an assistant, locked inside his car, which was parked and running in the company garage, TMZ reported. No official would confirm the cause of death until the autopsy, which is scheduled for today. It came as a shock given Balelo's popularity on "Storage Wars" and young age; he was only 40 years old.
"My work is my hobby nowadays," his eBay profile reads. "I actually enjoy working and I am grateful for my talents. Going to Vegas and having fun with friends and business associates was one of my favorite things to do."
After a previous drug arrest, Balelo and his fiancé, Elizabeth Metzidis, spoke about how he was planning to change his life around.
"Friends of mine were using a hotel room that was rented in my name. They were partying in there; I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't even there. It's not a big deal. I'm just trying to do the best I can," Balelo told Radar Online.
"I want people to know that Mark has a heart of gold," Metzidis added. "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," she said.