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The Clinton County Coroner's office ruled yesterday that a Lock Haven University student -- who was the focus of a police investigation into the strangulation death of his reported male lover -- killed himself.

A spokesman for the coroner's office said Michael McGarvey, 19, died from a strangulation due to hanging early Friday morning.

Dr. Harold Cottle, who conducted the the autopsy, ruled the death a suicide.

McGarvey died late Saturday night, less than 48 hours after police found his body hanging in the cellar of his apartment.

He was the focus of a police investigation into the murder of Michael Houseknecht, 21, a junior at Lock Haven University.

Houseknecht's badly decomposed body was found last Wednesday in his Smith Hall dorm room. Police said Houseknecht was strangled to death about Sept. 8 possibly with a black necktie.

In an interview with police last Thursday, McGarvey reportedly said that he was Houseknecht's lover and that he had retained a necktie to Houseknecht on Sept. 6. McGarvey's description of the tie matched the description of one found around Houseknecht's neck, according to an affidavit for a search warrant.

Houseknecht lived with McGarvey from March until Sept. 3 when he moved into the dormitories, according to the affidavit.

Neither the police nor the Clinton County District Attorney's office would comment on whether McGarvey was a suspect in Houseknecht's death.

Police said notes signed by "The Sandman" were found last week in both McGarvey's apartment and Houseknecht's room.

-- by Andy Hunn