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Ryan Loskarn, the former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander who was charged with possessing and distibuting child pornography last month, was found dead in his home in Maryland of an apparent suicide, law enforcement officials said Friday.

"At approximately 12 p.m. yesterday, Carroll County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a private residence in the 6900 block of Kenmar Lane for a report of an unconscious male, believed to be deceased," the sheriff's office reported Friday morning. "Family members reported finding 35-year old Jesse Ryan Loskarn unresponsive in his basement where he'd been residing with family since this past December.

"The preliminary investigation indicates that Loskarn may have taken his own life, and his body has since been transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office for Autopsy."

The Maryland state Medical Examiner said later Friday that Loskarn's death by hanging, initially reported by Politico, had been ruled a suicide.

Loskarn's parents, Chuck and Gay Loskarn, issued the following statement Friday: "We loved our son very much, and we're devastated by his death. Please respect our privacy at this difficult time and let us grieve in peace. Pray for him, his family and friends."

Loskarn, 35, was arrested last month by federal agents on charges that he possessed and intended to distribute child pornography. The arrest came as agents executed a raid on his Washington residence. Alexander fired him the same day.

"For everyone involved, this is a sad and tragic story from beginning to end," Alexander said in a statement Friday morning.

Federal prosecutors had delayed an indictment of Loskarn, hinting at a possible plea agreement. Court records show that Loskarn's lawyers and prosecutors agreed on Dec. 18 to extend the time for filing an indictment in the case to Feb. 10.

Loskarn had been released to the custody of his parents in Sykesville, Md., where he was ordered not to use the Internet and to wear an ankle bracelet.

In an unusual ruling issued in the case late last year, U.S. Magistrate John M. Facciola defended his decision to release Loskarn to his parents, citing measures taken to ensure that he would not have access to the Internet.

"I have prohibited the defendant's use of the Internet," he wrote in the two-page ruling. "I concluded, therefore, that the risk of his resuming the downloading of child pornography is not great."

The memorandum did not, however, mention the risk of suicide.

Loskarn made a rapid rise through the staff ranks in Congress and Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, called him "one of the Senate GOP's top strategists and aides." The newspaper also had included him on its list of "Fabulous 50 Movers and Shakers."

He started in 2000 in the office of Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., before joining the House Rules Committee in 2001. In 2003 he became communications director for Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, a position he held until 2007.

His next move was to become communications director for the Senate Republican Conference, then headed by Alexander. The conference was charged with promoting GOP policy ideas and legislation. Alexander stepped down as chairman of the conference in late 2011 and named Loskarn as his chief of staff in his personal office. He earned about $169,000 a year in that job, according to congressional records maintained by the LegiStorm website.

Born near Baltimore, Loskarn was an honors graduate of Tulane University, earning a bachelor's degree in history and political science in 2000.

Bill Theobald and Ledyard King of Gannett's Washington bureau contributed to this article.

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