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Worcester man who beat son to death found hanged in prison

Leslie G. Schuler had pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his son in Worcester Superior Court this month.

Rick Cinclair/Telegram & Gazette/AP

Leslie G. Schuler had pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his son in Worcester Superior Court this month.

A man who admitted to murdering his 7-year-old son on Father’s Day in 2009 was found hanged in his cell early Friday at the state prison in Walpole, the state Department of Correction said.

Leslie G. Schuler was serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years following his guilty plea to second-degree murder in Worcester Superior Court this month, said the Correction Department and the Worcester district attorney’s office.

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Schuler was in a cell by himself in the maximum-security prison when he was discovered at about 4:30 a.m., Correction Department spokesman Darren Duarte said in an e-mail.

The prison, formally known as MCI-Cedar Junction, is a facility where men who are newly committed to state prison spend their first few months behind bars before being transferred to other prisons across the state, according to the Correction Department website.

A spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, whose office is investigating Schuler’s death, said the Worcester man was discovered in his cell by a correction officer making routine rounds.

“His death does not appear to be suspicious at this time,’’ spokesman David Traub said.

The state medical examiner’s office will determine a cause of death and decide whether Schuler, 41, committed suicide, officials said.

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According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, a Worcester prosecutor said in court May 6 that the child, Nathaniel Turner, was taken off attention deficit medication in 2009 by his father, who began physically disciplining him, including spanking him.

The boy had been raised by his grandmother in Alabama until Schuler obtained a court order allowing him to spend the summer with him in Worcester, the Telegram reported.

The physical violence against the child escalated, and on Father’s Day in 2009, Schuler became enraged when his son vomited on a Father’s Day card. Schuler grabbed the child by the neck, struck him in the face, pushed him into a wall, and poked him in the stomach, the Telegram said.

When the child vomited a second time, Schuler knocked him off a chair, causing the child to hit his head on the floor, according to court records.

The boy was unresponsive the next day and was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, where he died two days later, the Telegram reported. Schuler was arrested in 2009 and had been in custody since then, the newspaper said.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe .com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

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