Probe Continues in Death of Jail Inmate

By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Maryland State Police and federal agents were working to complete interviews with Prince George's County corrections officers yesterday as the investigation into the death of a 19-year-old inmate at the county jail entered its second week.

Investigators probing the death of Ronnie L. White, who had been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a county police officer, worked through the holiday weekend, said Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman. "Investigators have additional interviews to conduct, so I know they are not completed," Shipley said. "That's all I can say."

County officials initially said seven guards and an undisclosed number of supervisors -- and no inmates -- could have had access to the maximum-security cell where White was being held when he was killed June 29. Law enforcement sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, now say more than a dozen employees had access, and not all had been interviewed as of yesterday.

At the request of county officials, state police and FBI agents began probing White's death June 30, after the state medical examiner's office preliminarily ruled his death a homicide. County officials have said White was strangled, and two bones in his neck were broken.

In addition to the interviews, detectives also are waiting for a final autopsy report on White. In what one of the sources characterized as an unusual visit, a state medical examiner traveled from Baltimore to the Upper Marlboro jail last week. The medical examiner inspected the cell where White was found, the source said.

White was found on the floor of his cell, unresponsive and with no detectable pulse, about 10:35 a.m., jail officials have said. He was last seen alive about 20 minutes earlier, awake and sitting on his bunk, the officials said. He had been charged two days earlier in the death of Cpl. Richard S. Findley. White was accused of driving a stolen truck that struck and dragged Findley.

FBI spokesman Richard J. Wolf declined to comment on the agency's investigation. Jail spokeswoman Vicki D. Duncan declined to say whether any jail employees had been put on leave or suspended since White was found.

County civil rights leaders and an attorney for White's family have called on the county to suspend all guards who had access to White's cell.

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