Moultrie Observer

Local News

October 31, 2012

Young inmate found dead in cell Tuesday

MOULTRIE — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is examining the death of a 25-year-old Colquitt County jail inmate whose body was found on the floor in his cell Tuesday morning.

There was no indication of injuries to Terrell Tyrone Harper, who had been in Colquitt County Jail since July 9, Colquitt  County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Julius Cox said Tuesday afternoon. Harper, who was serving a 300-day sentence for a probation violation, had no history of medical problems and his mother told the agency that she was not aware of any medical issues.

The death was discovered shortly after 3:30 a.m., the time that Harper, a trustee who worked in the jail’s kitchen, normally got up to help prepare breakfast for inmates.

After Harper failed to report, Cox said, two guards were sent to the trustee’s cell where they found him on the floor.

“They couldn’t get him to respond,” Cox said. “(Emergency Medical Services) arrived at about 3:45 a.m. We don’t know whether he fell out of his bunk or what happened.”

Harper’s body was checked for injuries and a sheriff’s investigator did some preliminary work before the GBI was called in to lead the investigation, Cox said. As a trustee he was not locked in a cell and slept in a common area with other trustees.

“That’s pretty much our protocol when we have an inmate death,” he said. “We do some very minimal things and call an outside agency to come in.”

The Colquitt County Coroner’s Office transported Harper’s body to a GBI facility for an autopsy whose results should be available today, sheriff’s investigator Mike Murfin said. Toxicology results take several weeks longer compared to the physical examination of the body, but that work will be expedited in this case to make the information available as soon as possible.

Harper had been serving a probated sentence on traffic charges until he was declared in violation of probation in August, when he was sentenced to the jail term.


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