According to sources, on September 9, 2010 at approximately 6:00 pm, an inmate at the Missoula County Detention Center was found barely alive after hanging himself. The victim was transported to a Missoula hospital in critical condition and was placed on life support. On September 11, 2o10 life support was removed and the inmate passed away. Soon after his demise, a caller asked the department whether or not a suicide had occurred- a firm denial was issued. Shortly thereafter, the sheriff gathered his officers for a briefing. He emphasized that the death was a private, internal matter. According to our sources, the sheriff scheduled an inquest to convene after the November general elections. While there is perhaps a reasonable explanation for such a delay, one would think that preserving the integrity of the crime scene and evidence would take precedence over most other conflicts. Perhaps something more sinister occurred? If this story is indeed true, numerous questions come to mind.
- Was the death a suicide? After all, the sheriff’s department did deny a suicide had occurred- perhaps it was actually a homicide.
- Where is the victim’s body? Was it handled in a dignified manner? Has he received a proper burial? Is a family missing their relative?
- Why has this incident not been reported by law enforcement or press?
- Is it typical procedure to wait two months for an inquest?
- Is there anyone currently employed within the Missoula Sheriff’s Department who stands to benefit from this suspicious delay?
Montana law requires that a civilian coroner conduct an inquest whenever a person dies in the custody of law enforcement; is killed by a peace officer; or dies in a prison, jail or other correctional facility. Because the sheriff Mike McMeekin is also the coroner, is the delay due to waiting for a coroner who isn’t also in law enforcement? Technically, the victim reportedly died at the hospital so perhaps the law isn’t applicable in this particular case.
Candidates for the Missoula County Sheriff’s election include Democrat Brad Giffin, Republican Nick Lisi and Independent Carl Ibsen. Both Giffin and Ibsen are currently employed by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department and all three candidates have had decades of experience. If embattled Sheriff McMeekin isn’t willing to address these rumors, perhaps the two officers who running for his position will provide the missing information. If that doesn’t occur, Missoula County voters may have a far simpler choice in November.