TIME

Jail Where Inmate ‘Baked to Death’ Had Known Heating Problem

Hot Cell Death
Alma Murdough and her daughter Cheryl Warner hold a photo of Murdough's son, Jerome Murdough, at her home in the Queens borough of New York, March 12, 2014. Jason DeCrow—AP

Jerome Murdough, an inmate at Rikers Island, was found in a pool of blood and vomit in an overheated cell one day after employees prepared multiple requests to fix the heating problem

Jail authorities knew of an heating problem and requested repairs one day before a mentally-ill inmate died in an overheated cell, though the repairs were delayed because of a long weekend.

According to the Associated Press, two repair requests prepared on Friday, Feb. 14 weren’t received until the following Tuesday because the maintenance department does not process work orders on weekends and because that Monday, President’s Day, was a federal holiday.

Jerome Murdough, a 56-year-old former Marine, was arrested one week before his death for trespassing onto a Harlem public housing project while seeking warm shelter from a cold night. Four hours after his body was found in a pool of blood and vomit in a Rikers Island jail cell, his internal temperature was 103 degrees.

A spokesperson did return the AP’s request for comment.

In March, one of four anonymous jail officials interviewed by AP said that Murdough “basically baked to death,” though the medical examiner’s office have not yet determined an official cause of death.

The interviewed officials said Murdough was on anti-seizure and anti-psychotic medication, which may have made the inmates especially vulnerable to heat, and that he did not open a vent in his cell to cool down, as others in the jail did.

[AP]

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