Society

Maryland Officials Investigating 'Suspicious' Death Of Inmate Found In Steam-Filled Cell

| by Jared Keever
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Three Maryland correctional officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of an inmate who was found dead in a cell full of steam, officials said. 

The Baltimore Sun reported over the weekend that correctional officers found the body of 35-year-old Louis Leysath alone in his cell Friday at the Jessup Correctional Institution.

Staff reportedly tried to administer CPR to Leysath, who was housed alone in his cell, but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead a short time later. 

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Mark Vernarelli released a statement saying the death occurred “under unusual circumstance,” according to a story from Reuters

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He said there was no fire in the cell and officers did not suspect foul play, but were investigating whether the death might have been an accident or a suicide. 

Leysath was serving a 30-year sentence for murder. Court records indicate he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for strangling his girlfriend to death in 2008. 

A follow-up story from The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday reports the investigation into the death of Leysath is ongoing and that placing the three officers on leave is a routine matter. 

Correction officials told the paper the medical examiner had not yet completed the autopsy report and investigators are still unsure how Leysath’s cell came to be filled with steam. 

Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen Moyer said in a statement late Monday that investigators from the department’s Intelligence and Investigative Division are leading the death investigation. Corrections officials are also reportedly conducting an administrative review of the incident. Until those inquiries are completed the department will be sharing little with the press, Moyer’s statement said. 

“This Department is committed to thorough investigations, and openness in sharing information once we are able to,” the statement read. “At this time, many questions remain unanswered, and until they are answered, we simply cannot jeopardize the investigation by discussing it.”

Sources: The Baltimore Sun (Feb. 22), Reuters, The Baltimore Sun (Feb. 24)

Photo Credit: Daily Mail courtesy of Charles County Sheriff’s Office. WikiCommons