Sheriff Mike Andrews is asking the State Bureau of Investigation to take over the inquiry into a seventeen-year-old's death at the Durham County Detention Facility.
The Sheriff's Office released a report Friday, listing Uniece Glenae Fennell's cause of death as suicide and the means of death as "tied sheet around middle window bar." Fennell was not under suicide watch, the DCSO said.
According to the report, Fennell was last seen alive by a jail employee at 2:18 a.m. Thursday during rounds. She was found lifeless thirty minutes later, and pronounced dead an hour later, after paramedics tried to revive her. The state medical examiner is conducting an autopsy.
"I am confident in our investigators and the reporting process set by the State," Andrews said in the statement. "However, I also want the public to be confident in our findings. To remove doubt and speculation, the Sheriff's Office has decided to ask the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the unfortunate suicide of Uniece Fennell, and the events leading up to her death at the Durham County Detention Facility."
In the statement, the DCSO acknowledged a report that Fennell had complained about verbal abuse by a detention officer. According to WRAL, Fennell's lawyer had emailed a complaint about the verbal abuse with the Sheriff's Office the day before her alleged suicide; the officer involved had resigned two weeks earlier.
Fennell was jailed July 26 after being charged in connection with the murder of nineteen-year-old Andre Bond. Her family's attorney is calling for an investigation into the jail. As the INDY reported last year, a 2013 suicide by inmate Terry Demetrius Lee, who tied a bed sheet to the bars on his cell window and hanged himself, was likely preventable.
This article appeared in print with the headline "+A Death in the Jail."