Washington County jail inmate found dead in cell

September 26, 2015
Gregory Michaux

A Washington County jail inmate was discovered hanging from a sheet in his cell early Saturday. Gregory Michaux, 38, of Clarksville, was found by a member of the jail staff, who was doing cell checks, Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said. He was pronounced dead at 2:19 a.m. in Washington Hospital emergency room. The cause and manner of death are pending, Warco said.

Washington County Commission Chairman, Larry Maggi, who also chairs the county prison board, said the circumstances surrounding Michaux’s death are being investigated. Maggi said the proper authorities were notified of the incident, and declined to provided additional information.

“Anytime there is a death, we adapt to it and try to make that it doesn’t happen again,” Maggi said.

On Feb.2, Richard A. Kempf, 31, of Washington, was found dead in his cell. Maggi said in February Kempf hung himself using a bedsheet, and that processes are in place to prevent jail suicides. Kempf was not on suicide watch. An internal investigation was completed by the jail, but the results are unknown.

In May, Kempf’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, Warden John Temas and the jail. Court documents indicted Kempf exhibited signs of withdrawal, which were exacerbated by pre-exisiting symptoms of depression and other mental illness, and he was denied medical care and treatment. Kempf, whose address was listed as 350 Duncan Ave., and his mother, Brenda Kempf, 51, were arrested Jan. 6 in connection with a burglary at their neighbor’s apartment. Richard Kempf was awaiting trial on charges of burglary, theft and receiving stolen property over accusations he stole a guitar and tools from two men, court records state. The charges against his mother were dismissed April 15.

Calls left for Temas and Deputy Warden Ed Strawn were not returned Saturday.

Michaux was in jail since March, when he was arrested by state police on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, harassment and disorderly conduct. He was awaiting trial, and his parole was revoked on a previous conviction.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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