New Bedford man dies by apparent suicide in Dartmouth jail

Jan 6, 2023

A 41-year-old New Bedford man died at the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth on Jan. 5 in an apparent suicide by hanging, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office.

Staff at the jail reportedly discovered the inmate while making rounds to distribute medication to inmates shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, at which point a medical emergency was initiated, prompting emergency response from various members of the facility.

Investigators observed signs of medical intervention by staff at the jail, including an AED and medical supplies.

The inmate was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, where he was pronounced dead at 8:09 p.m.

The inmate had entered the jail on Jan. 3 and was being held on $2,500 cash bail for charges of trafficking cocaine, two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and two counts of conspiracy to violate the drug laws, according to the D.A.’s office.

The death is being investigated by Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney’s office and an autopsy is being conducted.

In addition, an internal investigation, which covers security operations as well as mental and physical health, is already under way by the Bristol County Sheriff's Office, which operates the facility.

The cellmate and the rest of the inmates in the housing unit were evaluated by mental health professionals following the incident, and were again checked on Friday morning, according to the sheriff’s office.

"It's heart-breaking on many levels," said newly-inaugurated Sheriff Paul Heroux, who was sworn in on Jan. 3. "First, I personally, and we as an organization, send our condolences to this man's family.”

Heroux said that the goal of the sheriff’s department would be to “reduce the high rate of suicide these facilities have seen over the past decade-plus.”

He added that outside experts would be brought in to assess the department’s policies and procedures to look for ways to improve the situation.

"These initiatives, this new culture, will take time, but we will get there,” he said. “Bristol County will be a safer place. Our inmates will be better equipped to be productive, prosperous members of our communities upon release. We will get there, it just takes time.”