Death of jail inmate under investigation

Published 10:26 am Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of an inmate at the Lawrence County Jail Saturday evening.

The inmate has been identified as Timothy M. Conwell, 38, of 61 Township Road 84W, Willow Wood.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Jeff Lawless said the death appears to be from natural causes and foul play is not suspected.

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Lawless said at approximately 9:30 p.m. Saturday, a deputy was called to the Comfort Inn and Suites in regards to a man who was passed out on a sofa in the lobby but was not a guest of the hotel.

“Mr. Conwell had slurred speech, was staggering and appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Lawless said.

Lawless said although Conwell had no identification on him, the deputy recognized him because of his previous dealings with the sheriff’s office. Conwell told the deputy he was trying to find some place to stay because he was supposed to turn himself in at the sheriff’s office today and was to be taken to prison to serve an eight-year sentence on drug charges.

The deputy said Conwell told them the hotel refused to rent him a room because he did not have proper ID.

Due to his condition, Conwell was taken to jail after eating a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner he bought prior to his arrival at the hotel.

Lawless said efforts were made to find someone who would take in Conwell for the night.

“Conwell’s brother was contacted but he refused to allow Mr. Conwell to stay with him,” Lawless said in a prepared statement. “Three friends were also contacted and no one would allow Mr. Conwell to stay with them even after the deputy volunteered to drive him to their homes.”

Other hotels were contacted but none would take Conwell without proper ID.

Lawless said once at the jail, Conwell was booked in and was conscious during his booking and when he was placed in the drunk tank with two other people.

Deputies have advised Conwell was cooperative but was carrying prescription bottles of oxycontin and Xanax. He would not tell deputies if he had taken any pills or how many he might have taken.

Corrections officers said an hour before his death they observed him to be asleep and snoring. Officers said they checked on Conwell repeatedly throughout the night but were unable to wake him at 4:40 a.m. so his blood sugar could be checked prior to breakfast.

Lawless said his detectives and the Lawrence County Coroner’s Office are conducting the probe into what happened.