The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

March 13, 2007

Inmate's death ruled suicide

By Jeff Lehr

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The death of an inmate at the Jasper County Jail has been ruled a suicide, although the county coroner and the Sheriff’s Department have yet to state a cause of death.

Kelly Stephens, chief deputy of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, said the inmate, William K. Stephens, 42, of Springfield, no relation to the chief deputy, was found unresponsive Friday night inside his cell in a maximum-security portion of the jail.

The cause of death remained under investigation Monday by the Sheriff’s Department. Stephens said an autopsy was performed over the weekend in Springfield, and investigators are waiting on results of toxicology tests.

“It’s not a homicide,” Jasper County Coroner Jerry Neil told the Globe. “I’ve ruled it a suicide, that’s correct.”

Neil said he was holding off on stating a cause of death until the Sheriff’s Department could complete its investigation.

William Stephens was admitted to the jail last Wednesday. The chief deputy said he did not know on what charge the inmate was being held. He said William Stephens was locked up in a cell by himself at the time of the incident. He declined to discuss further details of the scene inside the cell.

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Carthage, Jasper County