Meridian Star

Local News

June 19, 2014

Probe into inmate death under way

MERIDIAN —     The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department is continuing to investigate the June 10 death of an East Mississippi Correctional Facility inmate.  

    Officers with the facility said they discovered an inmate identified as Charles Elliot McGrew, 71, unresponsive in his cell.

    McGrew's body was found with a rope made out of sheets tied around his neck. McGrew was then rushed to a local hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

    Officials with Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department believe McGrew died of strangulation, possibly from his cellmate.

    Sheriff Billie Sollie said the department does have a person of interest in custody in the case, but no charges have been yet been filed.

    "After receiving information from the coroner, Clayton Cobler, and the East Mississippi Correctional officials that the death had occurred, the investigation began," Sollie said.

    Sollie said investigators collected evidence from the scene and plan to present it to the next available Lauderdale County Grand Jury.  

    McGrew was serving a 15-year sentence at the facility for unlawful touching of a child.

    The Mississippi Department of Corrections was sued a year ago in a class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center over what was referred to as "barbaric" prison conditions.

    The lawsuit, which can be read on the SPLC website, said rapes, stabbings, and beatings in the facility were rampant.

    Management and Training Corporation (MTC), based in Centerville, Utah took over the facility from GEO group in July of 2012. The prison has a 1,362 capacity for male inmates.

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