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Jail chief: Inmate gave no warning of being suicidal

Shoplifting suspect found unconscious in cell

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A regional jail inmate who died in an apparent suicide Sunday gave workers no warning signs he would hurt himself, the facility's chief said Monday.

Officers at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center found 40-year-old Jon E. Cirksena unconscious in a cell lying on the floor next to his bunk at about 2 p.m. in what appeared to be a suicide attempt, according to a news release from the jail.

Officers entered the cell and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation pending the arrival of emergency medical services workers. Frederick County Fire and Rescue workers took Cirksena to Winchester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at about 2:45 p.m., according to the release.

Law enforcement had brought Cirksena to the jail Saturday at 3 a.m. on a charge of felony shoplifting. A magistrate ordered Cirksena held at the jail on a $5,000 secured bond Saturday, and he likely would have appeared via video for his arraignment in court today, according to Superintendent Bruce Conover.

Conover said Monday he would not release details of the incident, including what officers discovered in the cell given the sensitivity of the situation.

But Cirksena, who has spent time in the jail for previous convictions, showed no signs he would try to hurt himself, according to Conover.

"As a matter of fact he was screened twice, once upon intake, and asked a series of questions that are designed to identify any ideations of suicide or self-harm, and he gave no indication that he was intending to hurt himself," Conover said.

Cirksena underwent medical screening midday Sunday, and was subjected to the same line of questions, and again indicated no intent to hurt himself, according to Conover.
Jail workers sometimes but not always see warning signs, usually in the first day or two after an inmate comes to the facility, the superintendent explained.

"There's no way of knowing," Conover said. "I mean in the absence of him saying 'I've got a history of committing suicide or I intend to hurt myself' and, surprisingly, many people do that during intake because they're in a crisis mode, and in the absence of some other behavior, when you look at a person that's being processed, if you look and they've got cut marks on their wrists and those kinds of things, those are all signals and the officers look for that kind of stuff.

"But in this case he gave us no indication he intended to hurt himself," Conover added.
An autopsy is scheduled for today at the state medical examiner's office in Manassas, Conover said.

The regional jail last dealt with an inmate suicide almost three years ago. William Edward Alderman, 21, of Sterling, died in an apparent suicide at the jail after authorities brought him to the facility on charges of felony shoplifting. A medical examiner confirmed Alderman died of a suicide by hanging in mid-March 2009. After the incident Conover said Alderman also had showed no signs during the standard screening that he intended to harm himself.


"I mean in the absence of him saying 'I've got a history of committing suicide or I intend to hurt myself"

I'd guess that if you have a 'history of commiting suicide' it would be a pretty short one and you wouldn't be around to tell anyone about it.


I think it is sad when people see no other way out other than suicide. In these 2 cases though I find myself with much doubt & a lot of questions. Neither showed any signs & BOTH were in for "felony shoplifting". Not a major crime! I think if I were investigating, I would dig a lot deeper, something just doesn't sound right!!!!

Strange coincidence or what?

2012 - Cirkensa charged with felony shoplifting. Suicide. No warning.
2009 - Alderman charged with felony shoplifting. Suicide. No warning.

What's the penalty in Virginia for felony shoplifting? Eternity in purgatory?

I wonder if the same deputies or staff were on duty in each instance?

If I ever find myself lifting some garments from a department store or something I would certainly think that would be rock bottom. Good people will forgive alot but most don't have any use for a liar or thief!

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