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Inmate's death ruled asphyxiation

4-8-2006 Maine:

DOVER-FOXCROFT - A Piscataquis County Jail inmate who committed suicide on Tuesday died from asphyxiation by hanging, according to the results of an autopsy conducted by the state Medical Examiner's Office.

The body of Richard Prado, 34, of Brownville was discovered at about 5:40 a.m. during a shift change, according to Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin.

It was the first suicide in the Piscataquis County Jail in about 30 years and the first jail suicide in Maine this year.

Prado was being held on charges of gross sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a minor and tampering with a witness or informant. Police allege he committed sex acts on a local 7-year-old girl and downloaded on his computer digital images of her and another young girl in various stages of undress. Police also were investigating Prado in connection with an Indiana woman who recently was charged with 11 counts of child pornography.

"He ripped up his bedsheet, tied it in knots and tied it around his neck and placed it over a doorknob," Goggin said Friday. He said Prado then apparently sat down and his body did not quite reach the floor.

Prado was housed in one of two cells connected to a day room, according to Goggin. Two inmates shared one of the cells, and the other was occupied by Prado. Both of the inmates were asleep when Prado died, he said.

Six notes were left behind by Prado at the jail, according to Goggin. The notes, addressed to different county employees, included a request not to be resuscitated and an apology for the inconvenience and paperwork his death would cause.

The Maine State Police, who were notified by Goggin of the death, did an internal investigation Tuesday.

Maine State Police Detective Stephen Pickering said Friday it is protocol for his department to investigate the death to ensure it was a suicide and not foul play. No evidence of criminal activity was found during the investigation, the results of which have been turned over to the Maine Attorney General's Office as is protocol, he said.

The Maine Department of Corrections began its own investigation this week.

Ralph Nichols, the department's director of inspections and professional procedures, said Friday his department's investigation would likely be concluded by the end of the month.

Chuck Dow of the Attorney General's Office said Friday that his department would review not only the state police report but also the corrections department report.

Prado, who was unable to post bail, was being held at the jail pending the presentation of his case to a grand jury in June. His arrest came after SAD 41 school officials told local police that Prado had allegedly taken sexually explicit photos of two local elementary school girls, according to an affidavit filed by police.

At about the same time, the Piscataquis County Sheriff's Department also was investigating Prado for a similar child abuse case referred to him by an out-of-state complainant.

As the investigation was under way, Prado admitted himself to Acadia Hospital in Bangor where he stayed for an indefinite period. When Prado was released from the hospital on March 1 with the indication he was no longer a threat to himself, he was arrested, Goggin said.

While charges against Prado will be dismissed, a forensic examination of the computer and cameras seized from Prado will be conducted to see if other people were victimized or if other potential perpetrators need to be investigated, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. ..more.. by Diana Bowley
Staff Writer

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