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TN- Overton inmate found dead

6-8-2009 Tennessee:

LIVINGSTON -- The TBI is investigating the death of an Overton County jail inmate on Friday.

Thomas Morgan, 71, of Smyrna and formerly of Overton County, was being held on charges of sex offenses against a child, according to Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett.

He had been picked up by authorities in Smyrna on Thursday and turned over to Livingston Police Chief Greg Etheredge and DA's Investigator Terry Hembree, who brought him to the Overton County jail that night.

Etheredge said that sometime in the early morning hours of Friday, Morgan was found in his jail cell suffering from an apparent suicide attempt in which he had tied a bed sheet around his neck after connecting the sheet to some type of fixture in the cell.

He was taken to Livingston Regional Hospital, where he died.

Morgan had lived in Overton County for a time and had recently moved away, Etheredge said.

Etheredge and Hembree began an investigation of him after the mother of a young girl filed a complaint alleging that Morgan had sexually molested the girl. The charges on which Morgan had been recently indicted included rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery.

"Investigator Hembree and I went to Smyrna looking for him after the grand jury here indicted him, but we could not find him at that time, which was on Wednesday," Etheredge said.

The next day, the Smyrna Police Department did find Morgan, and Etheredge and Hembree returned to Smyrna and transported Morgan back to Livingston.

Burnett confirmed that Morgan had been jailed in Overton County around 9 p.m. Thursday, his bond set at $100,000, and that he was found unconscious in his jail cell later that night.

Allegedly, Morgan had a record of sex offenses in California, Etheredge said.

The TBI was called in to investigate the death. ..Source.. by Mary Jo Denton, Herald-Citizen Staff

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