York County inmate found in cell with sheet around his neck

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comSeptember 4, 2013 

Shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday, William Blinn, 26, was seen by a fellow inmate on the ground in his cell at the York County Detention Center, a sheet around his neck, according to a York County Sheriff’s Office report.

Ten hours and two hospitals later, Blinn was pronounced dead at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

The report states that detention staff performed CPR on Blinn before he was taken to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill. He was later airlifted to Charlotte.

As of Wednesday, Blinn’s body had been released “at the designation of the family,” according to the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office in North Carolina. Additional information from the medical examiner’s office should be available in the next few days, officials say.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the inmate’s death, and couldn’t provide any additional details because the investigation is ongoing. SLED spokesman Thom Berry on Wednesday couldn’t put a timetable on when the investigation would be complete.

Blinn was arrested last week after a burglary at the Country Club Market on Saluda Road in Rock Hill, where cash and two cash registers were taken.

He was charged with two counts of grand larceny, safecracking and possession of burglary tools, according to a Rock Hill Police department report.

When police found Blinn in his home near the market, he had $1,200 in cash and three knives in his possession, as well as the cash registers, the report states.

Blinn did not have a criminal record in South Carolina or North Carolina. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in Florida in 2011.

Blinn had been in custody three days before his apparent suicide at the York County Detention Center, according to the sheriff’s office.

A report from Bureau of Justice Statistics said that nearly half of jail suicides nationwide occurred in the first week of custody.

Another report showed that nationwide, just .042 percent of all local jail inmates committed suicide while in custody in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, although that number was the highest it’s been since 2003.

In South Carolina, between 2000 and 2011, an average of 15 to 16 people died all of causes while in custody in local jails.

The York County Detention Center hasn’t had an inmate die from an apparent suicide since 1992, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris, although that death occurred in the old county jail, not at the Moss Justice Center, which opened in 1995.

In 2012, Steven Spagnoli, a convicted murderer, attempted suicide by falling from an upper tier stair rail inside the detention center, Faris said. Spagnoli survived the fall.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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