Woman attempts suicide at Harford County jail

May 30, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

A 41-year-old woman tried to hang herself in the Harford County Detention Center yesterday morning, the county Sheriff's Office reported.

Terry Lucinda Hochaday of Port Deposit tied her shirt and underclothing to the bars of her cell between 3:15 a.m. and 3:25 a.m., the Sheriff's Office said.

Ms. Hochaday had been moved from the booking area to an isolation cell at 3:15 a.m. because "of her disruptive behavior," said Cpl. Edward Hopkins of the criminal investigation division. Her suicide attempt was discovered 10 minutes later when officers performed a routine check, a police statement said.

Corporal Hopkins said the woman was found kneeling on the LTC ground with the clothing wrapped around her neck and tied to a bar. He said she was not seriously injured and initially refused medical treatment.

Officers immediately untied the woman, who had been arrested a few hours earlier on a disorderly conduct charge, and called for an ambulance, the Sheriff's Office said. She was treated at Fallston General Hospital and returned to the jail.

The attempt drew more than normal attention because of an investigation into the suspicious strangulation death of a male prisoner last year.

The detention center near Bel Air has been under scrutiny since the settlement of a threatened lawsuit by the parents of William M. Ford, 28, who was found dead in his cell March 1, 1992, with a pillow case knotted around his neck.

Mr. Ford's family alleges that he was raped and killed at the jail. The state's attorney's office is investigating three guards in the case.

The autopsy indicates that Mr. Ford died of strangulation and suffered a fractured larynx -- an injury several independent pathologists have said is rarely self-inflicted. The autopsy also revealed suggestions of sexual molestation.

According to investigators and the Ford family lawyer, other irregularities included Mr. Ford's jail-issued clothing and bed linen from the cell not being preserved, and the cell being scrubbed and disinfected before being examined.

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