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Sheriff investigates death of prisoner

While he said it appears to be a case of suicide, Sheriff Dan Bullock said the death of a 49-year-old prisoner in the County Jail late Tuesday afternoon is under investigation.

Clyde Deck of House Springs was found shortly after 4 p.m. by a jailer making his routine rounds, Bullock said. Deck was locked alone in a cell in one of the main cell blocks of the jail.

According to the sheriff, it appears Deck tied one end of a string around his neck and the other end around a divider in the window of the cell. He then apparently simply sat down to hang himself.

“All he had to do was stand up and he would have been okay,” Bullock said.

The sheriff said Deck, who has been housed in the jail for several months, was under what is called a “suicide watch.” This means a jailer checked his cell every 10 to 15 minutes to see that Deck was all right.

“Of course, he knew the routine,” Bullock said of Deck. “An officer had checked him less than 15 minutes before the body was discovered.”

Deck was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Jim Coplin, who was called to the scene. The sheriff said Deck was apparently dead when the officer discovered him hanging in the cell.

Even though it appears to be a suicide, the sheriff said his department is conducting a full investigation into the death. The cell was treated as a crime scene and officers were interviewing other prisoners held in the same cell block with Deck.

Deck was arrested in September and charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action after a domestic incident in northern St. Francois County. Bullock said Deck had shot his son in the leg during the domestic dispute. He was being held in the jail under a $200,000 bond.

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