A Brunswick County jail inmate who earlier this week led police on a car chase apparently killed himself in his cell, an official said.
Michael Rago, 33, was found unresponsive in his jail cell at 11:14 a.m. Thursday, said Brunswick County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Emily Flax.
"He is the victim of an apparent suicide," Flax said in a new release. "During the initial stages of these investigations, there have been no indication of foul play, nor have there been any apparent violation of (sheriff's office) policies and procedures."
Rago and Elizabeth Ashley Ventiquattro, 35, both of Ocean Isle Beach, were arrested Monday after security officers accused the two of shoplifting and returning stolen merchandise for cash at the Walmart in Southport, said Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove.
When police tried to stop the two, they got into a Honda CRV and fled, nearly running over two Southport officers before fleeing onto N.C. 87, Dove said.
Eventually, officers from the Southport Police Department, the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office and the N.C. State Highway Patrol were involved in the pursuit.
The chase came to an end when the fleeing vehicle hit two parked cars. Rago and Ventiquattro were taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for treatment after the crash and then early Tuesday were booked into the Brunswick County jail.
Rago was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, felony larceny, felony possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, felony eluding arrest, speeding and reckless driving. According to the Horry County (S.C.) Sheriff's Office, Rago also was wanted for failing to register as a sex offender. National sex offender registration records show Rago was convicted in 1999 in New York of rape and sodomy. He spent 11 years in prison and was released in August 2010, according to N.Y. Department of Corrections records.
Ventiquattro is charged with financial card theft, larceny, possession of heroin and possession of stolen goods. She initially was booked under another name because she had someone else's identification with her, but that has since been corrected, Dove said.
The State Bureau of Investigation has been notified of Rago's death and will be conducting an investigation at the request of Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram and District Attorney Jon David, Flax said.
Additionally, a separate internal investigation is being conducted by the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office of Professional Standards, Flax said. ..Source.. by F.T. Norton