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Police Investigate Apparent Inmate Suicide

8-7-2010 Maryland:

JESSUP, Md. (AP) ― Howard County police are investigating the apparent suicide of an inmate at a county detention facility who was recently charged with sex abuse of a minor.

Forty-three-year-old Thomas Edward Brookhyser died Friday night at a local hospital. Bowie resident Brookhyser was found on the floor of his Howard County Central Booking cell around 7:30 p.m. Friday. Police say Brookhyser appeared to have hung himself by linking his shirt to a handicap bar near the cell's toilet.

According to police, the preliminary investigation shows correctional staff performed a suicide screening and did not see any indicators for suicide. They also say there does not appear to be any evidence of foul play at this time. ..Source.. by Maryland AP News

Officials say Bowie-area man killed self in Jessup prison

8-10-2010 Maryland:

Highbridge Estates resident charged with sex abuse of a minor

A Bowie-area man who was charged this week with sex abuse of a minor died Friday night at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore after apparently trying to commit suicide by hanging himself the day before at a Jessup jail.

Police are investigating the death of Thomas Edward Brookhyser, 43, who was processed Thursday night at the Howard County Central Booking facility in Jessup on charges of sex abuse of a minor, according to a release from the Howard County Police Department.

A correctional officer found Brookhyser hanged in his cell less than 40 minutes after he last checked on him, the release stated. Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department, said Monday there is no evidence of foul play, and suicide is suspected.

Cindy Rivers, public information officer for Shock Trauma, confirmed Monday that Brookhyser was no longer a patient at the hospital but could not provide more information because of medical privacy regulations.

Brookhyser, who lived in the 6700 block of Alexis Drive in Highbridge Estates, bordering the city of Bowie, had also been charged with second-degree assault and second- and third-degree sex offenses, according to online court records. The charges are no longer in effect, having been "abated by death," according to the records.

Court records also indicate that Brookhyser did not have an attorney.

When reached by phone Monday, Brookhyser's father, George Brookhyser, of Summersville, W.Va., described the charges against his son as "spurious" and "bogus."

"People are innocent until proven guilty," George Brookhyser said. "It's one person's word against another. The man is not available to defend himself, and the only one to defend him is me."

George Brookhyser said his son served four years in the Army, operating one of three cranes at Fort Eustis, Va., that loaded supplies onto ships during Operation Desert Storm.

Thomas Brookhyser was a Sergeant E-5 when he was discharged and received an Army Service ribbon, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Expert Badge-M16 rifle, Sharpshooter Badge-Hand Grenade, NCO Professional Development Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal, according to his obituary.

"I feel they are besmirching his good name with these spurious and wrong charges," his father said.

Charging documents allege that Thomas Brookhyser coerced the victim, a family member, into masturbating him when she was 13 or 14 years old by threatening to stop buying things for the household if she told anyone. Documents indicate he allegedly fondled her but did not have intercourse with her.

According to the release, Thomas Brookhyser appeared before a Howard County District Court Commissioner in Jessup about 6:40 p.m. Thursday, and his bond was set at $100,000. After the hearing with the commissioner, Thomas Brookhyser was placed in a cell by a correctional officer, according to the release.

When a correctional officer checked him around 7 p.m., he was in "satisfactory condition," according to the release. When the officer checked him again at 7:37 p.m., Thomas Brookhyser was seen on the floor hanging by his shirt from a grab bar near the toilet in the cell, according to the release.

The officer called for help, and a correctional lieutenant and a Howard County police officer performed CPR until county emergency medical personnel arrived and took Thomas Brookhyser to Shock Trauma in an ambulance.

Thomas Brookhyser did not regain consciousness during the transport to Shock Trauma, Llewellyn said. He remained at Shock Trauma and was pronounced dead Friday night, according to the release.

The preliminary police investigation shows that as part of the intake process, correctional staff did a suicide screening and there were no indicators for suicide, nor did his behavior alert staff to the possibility of suicide, the release states.

A native of Craigsville, W.Va., Thomas Brookhyser graduated from Parkdale High School in Riverdale in 1985. He joined the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Va. He lived in the Bowie area for about six years, his father said.

Services are scheduled for Wednesday. The funeral arrangements are being handled by the Rose & Quesenberry Funeral Home in Beckley, W.Va. ..Source.. by Virginia Terhune

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