Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Middletown, OH: Middletown jail inmate’s death being investigated

MIDDLETOWN — Butler County Coroner’s Office is investigating an apparent suicide at the Middletown Jail.

James Kelhoffer, 51, was pronounced dead at 1:12 a.m. Wednesday, according to Butler County Coroner’s Office investigator Clint Nigg.

Nigg said Kelhoffer’s death is an apparent suicide, but the cause of death has not been determined. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Middletown Division of Police Lt. Scott Reeve said Kelhoffer was found not moving in his cell around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday.

“He was leaning forward in the seated position with a shoe string around his neck and attached to the phone on the wall,” said Reeve.

He said there was no indication during the arrest or booking process that he was suicidal.

Kelhoffer was arrested around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on a domestic violence charge after fighting with his wife and stepson at their Riverview Avenue home. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Middletown Municipal Court Wednesday morning.

According to the police report, Kelhoffer’s wife, Lorilee Kelhoffer “had been having problems for approximately three days” and she told police he “had been binge drinking for approximately three days.” During an argument Tuesday, she reported to police he had been throwing beer cans around the house, and threw a cable box at her. She also told police she had recently filed for divorce and told Kelhoffer during their fight.

Police report that 23-year-old Tyler Smith, Kelhoffer’s stepson, heard the disturbance while in the shower and went to the kitchen and Kelhoffer reportedly began taunting him. After pushing each other once each, police report Kelhoffer allegedly punched Smith in the face three times and that began fight between the two.

Suicide attempts are not uncommon for inmates at the Middletown City Jail, said supervisor Sgt. Rick Bowling, “but successes are what’s uncommon.”

The last someone committed suicide in the jail was in July 2009.

Staff Writer Richard Wilson contributed to this report.

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