Sullivan County officials say jail inmate died of natural causes

Jeff Bobo • Mar 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday it has no reason to believe an inmate death which occurred Saturday afternoon was due to anything but natural causes.

Investigators won’t be able to say for sure, however, until the results of an autopsy are released.

According to a SCSO report, inmate Rebecca K. House, 46, was found unresponsive in her cell Saturday around 3:50 p.m. at the Sullivan County Correctional Facility. House had been placed alone in a cell due to being on crutches.

“She was immediately attended to by corrections officers and medical personnel,” SCSO Capt. Keith Elton stated in a press release. “She was then transported to Wellmont’s Bristol Regional Medical Center by Sullivan County EMS where she was pronounced dead.”

Chief Deputy Lisa Christian told the Times-News Sunday there is no evidence of foul play or suicide.

“There’s going to be an autopsy performed, and there’s not really anything else to report at this time until we get an official cause of death,” Christian said. “It appears to be natural causes. The main thing is our condolences go out to her family, and also our concern for the officers who were there and the medical personnel.

“It’s not an easy situation to deal with, but when you’ve got between 650 and 700 inmates every day, every once in a while this is going to happen.”

House was being held on charges of failure to appear and failure to report to jail. She had been in jail since March 12.

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