Ohio authorities are currently investigating whether the death of 24-year-old prison inmate Zachary Goldson was the result of a murder or a suicide. Goldson had served only six days of a five year sentence in a Brown County jail when he was found hanging from a bed sheet attached to a sprinkler head in his cell.
Although the law enforcement officials at the jail initially described the death as a suicide, a new report from the coroner’s office suggests that Goldson may have been a victim of homicide. Brown County Coroner Judith Varnau wrote in her report that Goldson could not have been physically able to reach the sprinkler head, as it was placed 9.5 feet above the floor. Goldson was 6 foot 1. Varnau also indicated that the marks on Goldson’s neck were atypical of a bed sheet hanging.
Goldson’s mother Christina Dennis told WCPO that she initially believed her son’s death to be a suicide but began to change her mind as she learned more about the incident.
“He’s never done anything like that before. I don’t know if that was -- something happened in the jail, you know, that he wanted out of there badly. Something must have really went wrong in the six days he was there because he’s been in trouble before and he had never done anything like this,” Dennis said.
According to RT, the events leading up to Goldson’s death began when he “reportedly swallowed a pen, a toothbrush, and staples in an attempt to show other inmates he could easily bring them back up.” He was taken to the hospital to have the objects removed, and when he came back to his cell his body was found 25 minutes later.
Varnau’s husband reportedly has personal issues with Brown County Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger, who is considered a political rival. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation indicated that it’s investigation would differ from Varnau’s because it is not politically motivated.
“The [Sheriff’s Office] has full confidence that BCI will reach their conclusions based on facts, not someone’s political agenda,” Chief Deputy J.K. Schadle said, indicating his skepticism at Varnau’s report.