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Inmate death under investigation

Melissa Topey • Mar 6, 2014 at 12:30 PM

In the time it took a Sandusky County jail guard to lead other inmates out for recreation, an inmate was able to kill herself, according to jail officials.

   “When the deputy came back, she found her,” Sandusky County jail administrator Tom Fligor said. Sandusky County sheriff’s Detective Sean O’Connell is investigating the incident, which happened Thursday evening.

   The jail’s only woman guard that night led the women inmates out for recreation, leaving Mary Eberly, 38, of Fremont, unattended in a common area inside the jail, officials said.

   Eberly took a phone cord from the jail’s video visitation system in a common area and used it to hang herself. Jail officials are still trying to determine how long the jail guard was with the other inmates and how long Eberly was left alone.

   Jail guards conduct in-person checks on inmates, but only with those who are the same sex as the jail guard, unless there’s an emergency, administrators said.

   The jail’s surveillance cameras, however, allow all jail guards to monitor inmates from the control room. No one was monitoring Eberly before she killed herself, Fligor said.

   Jails are required to conduct inmate checks at least once every hour. The last physical check of Eberly was at 6:41 p.m., Fligor said, and she was found at 7:16 p.m.

   “This was well within the time required” Fligor said.

   Fligor refused to release the name of the female jail guard until the investigation is complete. He also said he would not release video footage and any other public records until the investigation is complete, including information on the guard’s employment history at the jail.

   O’Connell will review the video footage and jail logs and talk to everyone involved, Fligor said.

   Sandusky County coroner John Wukie is also reviewing Eberly’s cause of death.

   Fremont police responded to the scene to take photos, Fligor said.

   Eberly was not on any medical or health watch and she had been a model inmate, he said.

   Police arrested Eberly and booked her into the jail Feb. 25 on a theft charge. She was sentenced in Fremont Municipal Court to 45 days in jail for a probation violation, and she was in jail a few days before killing herself, according to Sandusky County officials.

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