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Coles jail hanging victim identified

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CHARLESTON — Authorities have identified the Coles County jail inmate who died at the jail Thursday as David J. Bower of Charleston and indicated that he hanged himself in his cell.

Jail corrections officers found Bower, 25, of Charleston unresponsive in his cell after other inmates alerted them to his condition about 11 a.m. Thursday, according to Illinois State Police. The officers attempted to revive Bower but weren’t successful, state police indicated.

An autopsy that took place on Friday showed that Bower died by hanging, county Coroner Ed Schniers said. He said there were no toxicology test results yet but there was no sign of other trauma to Bower, so he doesn’t expect the finding to change.

Schniers also said Bower was alone in his cell, so there’s no evidence that anyone else was involved. He also said Bower used a piece of bedding material to hang himself.

State police Lt. Tad Williams said the investigation showed that jail corrections officers conducted cell checks and saw nothing wrong with Bower “just prior” to the other inmates notifying them of the problem.

“We have no reason to believe the jailers didn’t do their cell checks and do them properly,” Williams said. “It looks like everything was done to policy.”

Sheriff Darrell Cox said it’s standard procedure to have state police investigate the death of an inmate in custody.

Cox said his office has to notify the Illinois Department of Corrections, which oversees jails and their operations, and he’s yet to see the reports from the investigation. It’s too early to say if any procedure changes will be needed because of Bower’s death, he said.

Bower was jailed following his arrest on suspicion of retail theft on Feb. 23, according to the jail’s records.

Contact Fopay at or 217-238-6858.


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