Jail To Remove Sheets From Cells After Tessier Suicide

Tyler Tessier, left, and Thierry Nkusu. Both were found dead in their prison cells from suicides.

Jail director awaiting results of police investigation

Montgomery County jails are in the process of removing sheets from the cells of inmates in the wake of the suicide of Tyler Tessier, corrections department director Robert Green said Wednesday.

Tessier was about to stand trial for the death of his pregnant girlfriend when he was found dead in his Montgomery County Correctional Facility cell on Sept. 6.

“We are looking at what our options are. It doesn’t mean we’re blaming [the sheets], but we know that’s an option,” Green said of taking them away.

Inmates will still have uniforms, and the jails will double up blankets, he said.

Tessier was the second suicide in the Montgomery County jails this summer. Sixty-four days before Tessier took his life, Thierry Kinshala Nkusu had used a bed sheet to hang himself, police said. His death came 48 hours after a judge sentenced Nkusu to life without parole in the stabbing death of his pregnant fiancé.

Montgomery County Police are investigating Tessier’s death, and the results of that probe could lead to other policy changes besides removing sheets, Green said.

Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti, a police spokeswoman, said the investigation was not complete.

State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Tessier left behind several notes that police had taken as part of evidence of their investigation. McCarthy said the notes would be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

Green, who has not seen the letters, said they could provide insight in potential policy changes.

Within the next two weeks, the jail is expecting the arrival of a representative from the National Institute of Corrections, a part of the U.S. Justice Department. The individual is expected to review Montgomery County jail protocols, Green said.

On Sept. 24, Green is expected to appear before a public session of the Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee to discuss the jail’s suicide prevention practices.

According to a corrections department statement earlier this month, Tessier took a shower at 4:15 a.m. Sept. 6. He was served breakfast at 4:45 a.m. He was discovered hanging from the topmost bunk in his cell at 4:55 a.m. during a routine check.

Lawyers had nearly completed jury selection and Tessier was about to stand trial in the death of Laura Wallen. The Olney woman, whose relationship with Tessier lasted 10 years, was shot in the back of the head in September 2017.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this, but the defendant was found dead in his jail cell at 5 this morning,” Judge Michael Mason told jurors later that morning as he dismissed them.

Wallen had disappeared on Sept. 3, 2017. On Sept. 11, 2017, Tessier participated in a news conference urging her to come home. “There’s nothing we can’t fix together,” he said.

Suicide rates have increased more than 30 percent in 25 states since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And in 54 percent of cases, suicide decedents were not known to have mental health conditions, the CDC says.


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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug


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