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Jail records sought
Attorneys for family of inmate who died at Rappahannock Regional Jail seek medical records.

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Date published: 7/19/2003

Inmate's family requests data about his death

FREDERICKSBURG.COM

Attorneys for the family of an inmate who died of an apparent suicide in the Rappahannock Regional Jail filed papers yesterday requesting everything the Virginia Medical Examiner's Office has related to the case.

The request covers medical tests, samples, records and investigative information, among other things.

Orange County attorney Frederick J. Getty filed the request in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court on behalf of the estate of Earl D. "Boogie" Rose Jr., 25, who died in the jail on Oct. 4. Getty could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Jail Superintendent Larry Hamilton declined to comment on the petition, citing potential litigation over Rose's death.

The request marks the latest development as controversy continues to swirl around the jail after a rash of four deaths in an eight-month period.

Damon Kissam, 21, died of apparent heart failure after suffering alcohol withdrawal in his cell on April 25, according to jail officials. He was being held on charges of driving on a suspended license and other traffic violations. He had been in jail three days.

William T. Chittum Jr., 19, was found hanging from the upper bunk in his cell on May 25. The jail says it appeared he fashioned a noose from a bedsheet and tied it to the bunk frame. He was just two days away from his scheduled release on a reckless-driving conviction.

On June 8, Philip K. Kristoffersen, 27, of Prince William County was found hanging in his cell. He had been in jail since May 23 on a felony bad-check charge from Stafford County.

Family members of all the dead prisoners question what happened to their loved ones. They don't trust police and jail officials to tell the truth.

The parents of the other three inmates also have contacted attorneys about launching outside investigations into their sons' deaths.

Earlier this month, a prison-suicide expert hired by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that jail officials did all they could to prevent the recent apparent suicides. Hamilton said he expects the final report from the expert by the end of the month.

The jail, which serves Fredericksburg and the counties of Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George, has been plagued by overcrowding.

The 264,000-square-foot brick building off U.S. 1 in Stafford was designed to house 662 inmates. Three years after it opened, the average daily population exceeds 860.

In letters to the newspaper and in interviews, inmates also have complained of poor medical care, substandard food and guards who are either overly aggressive or indifferent toward inmates.