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Inmate's death is ruled suicide

July 13, 2004

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The death of a Franklin County Prison inmate found hanging in his cell early Sunday has been ruled a suicide by County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner.

Conner said the cause of death was suicide by hanging following a Monday autopsy at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown, Pa.

The 45-year-old Chambersburg man was discovered with a bed sheet tied around his neck at 1:48 a.m., 28 minutes after the last time his cell was checked, according to Warden John Wetzel. He was in a cell with another inmate in what Wetzel called a special needs wing for prisoners with diagnosed mental illnesses or who pose a threat to themselves or others.

The man was not on a suicide watch, but the eight cells in the wing are checked every 30 minutes, Wetzel said.

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Wetzel said the man had been in jail on two separate sets of charges since March 25 and was awaiting trial. He was charged with terroristic threats and harassment in one case and terroristic threats, impersonating a public servant and disorderly conduct in another, the warden said.

According to prison records, he had been committed to the prison at least four times since 1992.

No next of kin could be found Sunday, but Conner said he located a relative of the man Monday afternoon in Chambersburg.

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