An inmate at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville was found hanged in his cell yesterday, hours after being transferred to a disciplinary unit for allegedly making threats to corrections officers, a county official said.
DeWight Offutt, 30, of Gaithersburg, was found slumped against his bed in a double-bunk cell around 2:30 p.m. by a corrections officer, said Claire Gunster-Kirby, spokeswoman for the county Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.
A sheet was tied around Offutt's neck and attached to the top bunk, Gunster-Kirby said. Foul play is not suspected in the death, she said. Offutt had been jailed without bond since April 20 on charges of first-degree rape, kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense and violation of probation, according to court records. He was scheduled to go on trial Oct. 9.
Gunster-Kirby said Offutt was moved to the jail's disciplinary unit about 10 a.m. yesterday because of alleged "verbal altercations" with corrections officers. Offutt's cellmate was talking with a counselor elsewhere in the jail at the time of the apparent suicide, she said.
Shortly after being jailed at the facility on Seven Locks Road, Offutt had tried to harm himself, inflicting superficial cuts to his wrist, Gunster-Kirby said. That incident was deemed "not a serious threat" by mental health workers and a pyschiatrist who evaluated Offutt, she said.
However, because of the earlier suicide attempt and the disciplinary problems, Offutt was checked on at least every 20 minutes, Gunster-Kirby said. Corrections officers normally check on inmates every 30 minutes, she said.
A corrections officer had found nothing amiss when he saw Offutt 20 minutes before his body was found, Gunster-Kirby said.
County corrections officials and the jail's medical staff tried to resuscitate Offutt, the spokeswoman said. A county ambulance team also was sent to the jail, she said. Offutt was pronounced dead about 2:50 p.m., she said.
Offutt's death was the first this year at the county jail, Gunster-Kirby said. An investigation of the hanging death will be conducted by the correction department and the county police, she said.
Gunster-Kirby said inmates in the jail's disciplinary unit are kept in their cells except for daily one-hour exercise breaks. Inmates are granted additional privileges with good behavior, she said. An internal disciplinary hearing was scheduled for Offutt on the threats he was accused of making to the officers, Gunster-Kirby said.