REPORT: Inmate Found Unresponsive While In Custody, Third Death Within Month At California Jail

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A woman suffering from withdrawals died while in custody at a California jail, the third in-custody death at the facility in a month, according to local reports.

Elizabeth Laurel, 39, was booked into the Santa Rita jail on drug charges Saturday only to be found unresponsive in her cell two days later during a general observation of the unit in which she was housed, KRON 4 and KTVU reported Tuesday. Though paramedics worked to revive her, Laurel was pronounced dead approximately 40 minutes later.

A preliminary investigation revealed there were “no obvious signs of trauma or foul play,” and Laurel was the sole occupant of her cell, the outlet stated. As an inmate with a history of addiction, Laurel was under “withdrawal protocols” for opioids and alcohol at the time of her death, according to KRON 4.

Laurel’s death is the third inmate death at the facility in a month, according to KRON 4 and KTVU.

On Jan 18, Stephen Lofton was alone in his cell when he was found unresponsive with a jail-issued bed sheet around his neck and tied to the top bunk, KRON 4 reported at the time. On Feb 2, Charles Johnson, 45, was found unresponsive in his cell while staff were distributing medication to his unit, KRON 4 reported. Like Laurel and Lofton, Johnson was also determined to be alone in his cell at the time. Paramedics were called in to perform life-saving measures and Johnson was transferred to a local hospital and placed on a ventilator, the outlet stated. As Johnson’s condition continued to deteriorate, he was taken off the ventilator and subsequently died Feb 4, according to reports. (RELATED: FBI Launches Investigation Into Series Of Deaths At Texas Jail)

Laurel’s cause of death is being determined by the Alameda County medical examiner, who will present their findings to the California Attorney General’s office.