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Man commits suicide in jail

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A Greenwood man who had been in jail for three weeks hung himself in his cell early Friday morning.

Correctional officers were doing an hourly patrol when they found Charles Thomas Blessing, 30, hanging from the bed in his cell about 3:15 a.m. Jailers attempted CPR, but he was already dead. Emergency workers said it appeared he had been found within 30 minutes of death, Sheriff Doug Cox said.

Investigators found he had used cloth from his bedding to hang himself, Cox said. An autopsy was conducted Friday. Johnson County Coroner Craig Lutz was not available Friday.

Blessing was not on suicide watch and hadn’t had any disciplinary issues Cox was aware of since coming to the jail, Cox said.

Investigators will now review security cameras, check electronic logs from when staff check in and out of doors and conduct interviews with other inmates in the cell block and jail staff that were working that night.

Blessing had been at the Johnson County jail since July 9, and was being held on two felony charges for battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman and strangulation.

Blessing was being held in a medium security cell designed to hold two people or three if the jail is crowded. On Friday, Blessing was in the cell by himself. Cox did not know if Blessing was being kept alone in the cell for a reason, Cox said.

Unlike larger cell blocks with barracks-style bedding in a common area, inmates in the medium security area go in cells at night, and the door closes and locks. The cells have a tall narrow window that is about 5 inches wide and 4 feet tall, so correctional officers can see inside.

The security cameras in the cell block are pointed at common areas and not inside the individual cells, so the jailer working in the control room would not have been able to see what was happening, Cox said.

Correctional officers do hourly patrols to make sure inmates are behaving and also to make sure no one is missing, he said. Investigators will talk to jailers who were working and review the door logs to make sure those patrols were happening on schedule, he said.

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