Crime

Muscogee Jail deaths: 3 died of natural causes, 1 ruled suicide in 2017

FILE -- Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins
FILE -- Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into four Muscogee County Jail inmate deaths has ruled three died of natural causes and one was a suicide by hanging in 2017, Sheriff Donna Tompkins said Wednesday.

Roger Tyler, 41, was listed as a self-inflicted hanging by suicide while the deaths of Undra Williams, 42, Feaginess Wood Jr., 31, and Monica Daphine Clark, 49, were ruled as natural, Tompkins said during a news conference at the Columbus Government Center. All of the deaths were reported between January and August and the last two medical examiners reports were completed in November.

“It is a sad day for all of us anytime there is an inmate death in our facility,” the sheriff said. “We want to ensure the public there is significant oversight in each case.”

Tyler, who was booked into the jail on Dec. 22, 2016 on two counts of probation violation, was found hanging in the shower area at 3:49 p.m. Jan. 28, 2017. A medical examiner’s report was completed on May 17.

Since Tyler’s death, Tompkins said two recommendations have been implemented. She said the curtain now allows staff to see the top of an inmate’s head. A second recommendation encourages inmates to reach out to staff if an inmate or another prisoner may need psychological help. “We put that information out,” she said.

In the second death, Williams was found unresponsive in his bunk around 4:50 a.m. April 29. An autopsy was completed on May 2 and the report was completed on Nov. 8. His death was due to a ruptured aorta and ruled as natural. Williams was booked into the jail on April 23 on charges of driving while license suspended, having no insurance, concealed license plate, tampering with evidence and possession of drug related objects.

Wood was found in a pool of blood in his cell before he was transported from the lockup at 6:54 a.m July 1. He was pronounced dead at 8:38 a.m. in the emergency room at Midtown Medical Center.

An autopsy was completed on July 3 and the medical report was released on Nov. 6. His death was due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease as a natural death. “Basically, his heart stopped beating,” she sheriff said.

Wood was booked into the jail on June 13 on one count of child molestation and giving a false name. He was accused of blowing kisses and exposing himself to a 3-year-old girl on June 4 outside a house near Wynnton Road.

In the last death, Clark was facing two counts of probation violation, one count of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon when she was booked on April 1. Jail staff found Clark about 6:25 a.m. on Aug. 26 in her single cell. The staff and Emergency Medical Services personnel were unable to revive her.

No autopsy was conducted on Clark because of her extensive medical history, the sheriff said. “The medical examiner declines the need for an autopsy, and the manner of death is listed as natural,” she said.

Clark was accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend’s friend while chasing the woman in a pink Cadillac. Multiple witnesses identified her as the shooter.

Tompkins said her budget has more than $4 million for medical treatment, medicine and mental health services to serve a rising jail population. “I want the citizens to know we do a good job of providing medical and mental health services to our inmates,” she said.

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