Man hangs self in jail at Rock Hill Law Center

An inmate hung himself with a blanket Monday night in the Rock Hill city jail, hours after he was brought in on charges of stealing a car, officials said.

Jason Douglas Herring committed suicide by wrapping a blanket around his neck and anchoring it to a telephone mounted on the wall, according to a written account of the incident.

Six months ago, a female inmate used similar means -- a phone cord -- to hang herself at the jail. City officials installed shorter cords after that death but say they will review procedures again after the latest incident.

A jail officer discovered Herring slumped in Cell No. 1. around 11:40 p.m. Paramedics rushed him to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Herring, 35, had been in his cell for about four hours. Police brought him in around 7:50 p.m. after they say he stole a car that belonged to Mike Bagwell, owner of Bagwell Auto Sales on North Anderson Road.

The car was a white 2007 Mercedes SUV, a store representative said.

Herring's bond would have been set Tuesday morning when a judge arrived at the downtown law center.

Cell No. 1 can hold two people, but Herring was the only inmate kept there on Monday night. Two jail officers were on duty at the time.

The incident comes six months after a 45-year-old woman used a phone cord to hang herself in a different cell at the jail. That inmate, Glenda Renee Childers, was found slumped against a wall with a cord around her neck around 4:30 a.m. the night of June 5.

After Childers' death, jail officials shortened the phone cords from 33 to 12 inches in an effort to prevent more suicide attempts. The phones are provided in every cell so that inmates can make collect calls to relatives, lawyers and bondsmen.

"We evaluated what happened last time and saw the cord was the issue," said Rock Hill police Sgt. Brad Redfearn. "We shortened the length of the cord, so hopefully this would not happen again."

Now, city officials will do another review. Removing phones is one of several possible changes, said city spokesperson Lyn Garris.

State records show Herring has been arrested at least six times since 1999, on charges ranging from burglary to theft of cable TV service.

The most unusual case came in 2001, when Herring was charged with filing a false police report.

Herring told detectives he had been carjacked in a parking lot on Dave Lyle Boulevard by at least two assailants who locked him in the trunk of his car, The Herald reported at the time. He said the assailants drove him around during the day while he was unconscious.

Detectives later concluded that Herring made up the events. During the time he claimed to have been locked in his trunk, Herring made three withdrawals from a bank account that belonged to someone else. The total of the withdrawals was $162.50.

On Tuesday, the State Law Enforcement Division sent officers to investigate Herring's death, as is customary after jail fatalities.

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