Mark Sellers was in the driver’s seat of his black SUV and surrounded by law enforcement officers Tuesday morning when he shot himself — just around the corner from the Northland home FBI agents were searching after sledgehammering down a door.
His wife, Sandra, died two weeks ago, shot in the head and found with a gun in her left hand and Sellers unconscious beside her in the bedroom.
On Wednesday, more details emerged about Mark Sellers’ final, frantic moments, the couple’s background and what may have led to the apparent suicides.
A Chicago attorney who specializes in securities and investment fraud told The Star he had been retained by 10 Kansas City area investors who suspect they were bilked out of more than $1 million by a firm called Selden Companies LLC.
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Mark Sellers, 64, is listed as a principal in the firm, and there are indications “that Selden Companies was a scam,” said attorney Andrew Stoltmann.
That jibes with what sources told The Star after law enforcement officers descended on the Sellerses’ three-floor home on North Cosby Court near Northwest 60th Street on Tuesday. The sources said the raid to execute a search warrant was part of a fraud investigation.
Sellers held himself out as a corporate turnaround specialist — an experienced finance and management expert who could help companies in the midst of troubles or transition.
Stoltmann said his clients were promised rapid and sizable returns for their investments — in a range from 20 percent to 60 percent.
“The people involved gave varying explanations of what Selden Companies did,” Stoltmann said.
“It seems as though the Selden Companies’ pitch morphed over time with the main hallmark being large, substantial returns over short periods of time.”
Selden Companies was incorporated in Delaware in 2007. In 2010, Selden Companies sued a Georgia construction firm for defaulting on the repayment of a loan. The promissory note in that case bears Sellers’ signature and lists him as the managing member of Unique Business Solutions & Services, or UBSS.
The Sellerses’ home, which he purchased in 1997, was listed for sale for $1.295 million. Title to the property transferred to a trust in his wife’s name on July 8, not two weeks before she was found dead.
According to a police report, Sandra Sellers was found dead July 18, four days shy of her 63rd birthday. She was lying face up in a bedroom with a bullet wound on the left side of her head and a gun in her left hand. Mark Sellers was next to her but unresponsive. He was rushed to St. Luke’s North Hospital for treatment.
On Tuesday, Sellers reportedly drove up to his house to find the FBI searching his property, and unsuccessfully tried to leave the neighborhood in his vehicle.
When his path became blocked by law enforcement officers at the bottom of the cul-de-sac where he lived, Sellers shot himself. He died later of his wounds at a local hospital.
R.J. Campbell, a former federal prosecutor, was one of several neighbors who awoke Tuesday to find the neighborhood teeming with law enforcement officers.
Campbell said he and his wife had heard sirens go off from their first-floor bedroom and walked out on their front porch to see Mark Sellers’ SUV surrounded by “six to 10” law enforcement cars across from his property on Northwest 60th Street.
He said it appeared that officers broke the driver’s window and pulled out a firearm from the vehicle. Suddenly, shots rang out, Campbell said, and a firefighter later told him that Sellers had shot himself.
“I heard someone say, ‘There’s a gun,’ ” Campbell said. “Then I heard, ‘Pop! Pop!’ ”
Another officer later told him that authorities had entered Sellers’ home by knocking down a door with a sledgehammer.
Both Campbell and other neighbors recalled a private and occasionally obstinate couple with two children.
Several neighbors said they knew little or nothing about the couple. Many said they rarely saw the Sellerses, but consistently observed a stream of workers working on the yard and house.
When the Sellerses’ pool flooded his yard, a one neighbor said, he didn’t address the Sellerses. He worked the issue out with their pool man.
Campbell was familiar with the issue.
“She backflowed the pool into her neighbors’ yards,” Campbell said. “She was very unsympathetic to the problem.”
Neighbor Alan McCracken, whose yard backs up to the Sellerses, called the neighbors “problematic” and “not very nice people.”
Years ago, shortly after the Sellerses paid his children to water their plants during a vacation, McCracken said he invited the couple over for dinner. A few weeks after the meal, Mark Sellers abruptly threatened to sue McCracken over a dispute over property lines. Eventually, McCracken said, he talked Sellers out of filing paperwork. The men had little contact after the incident, McCracken said.
Another neighborhood couple said they had fond memories of Sandra Sellers, describing her as devoted to her children and grandchildren and often occupied with remodeling the home. Mark Sellers, meanwhile, often appeared to be away on business.
Sellers, a graduate of University of Missouri-Kansas City, had a long and varied career in business.
He appeared to conduct business as general partner of UBSS. The company’s other general partner, Tom Denmark, could not be reached for comment. Denmark’s phone number had an area code covering Atlanta.
Sellers became chairman of a medical technology company based in Norcross, Ga., called Flo Healthcare Solutions in 2003 while his UBSS business partner Denmark served as the company’s CEO.
Sellers worked with The Decatur Group, a private equity firm in Denver, to acquire Flo Healthcare Solutions.
The Decatur Group listed Sellers as a operating partner until recently. A biography for Sellers said he led a management team at Flo Healthcare Solutions that grew the company’s revenue threefold and improved operating margins until it sold to another company in 2006.
Peter Pak, a partner with The Decatur Group, said that despite the title, Sellers had little involvement with the firm since his dealings with Flo Healthcare.
“I’ve known him personally for a long time; obviously, it’s shocking and tragic,” Pak said. “He was never an employee with our firm.”
Pak said he received a phone call from Tom Denmark informing him of Sellers’ death Tuesday. Pak did not know what precipitated Sellers’ death.
“He was always a pretty private person, even when we were working together closely,” Pak said. “We weren’t out talking shop over a bottle of wine, over dinner, playing golf — there was none of that. It was all business-oriented, and he was good at what he did.”
On Wednesday, Sandra Sellers’ father briefly spoke to The Star, and said the family had been saddened by her passing.
“She was good-hearted, good-natured; we didn’t have any problems,” said her father, Frank Rodgers of Pleasant Valley.
Rodgers said Sandra Sellers graduated from Oak Park High School in 1971 and attended Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods. She was raised primarily by her mother, who passed away several years ago.
Rodgers said he last saw Sandra Sellers at her home in Platte County about three weeks ago.
“I am not too happy about it, but it happens,” Rodgers said about his daughter’s death.
After his daughter’s death, Rodgers said he had not been in contact with Mark Sellers. The flurry of activities Tuesday, including Mark Sellers’ death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, came as a shock, Rodgers said.
“It happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “It’s over.”
Rodgers declined to respond to further questions.