Inmate suicide still under investigation

FRONT ROYAL – The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail’s first inmate suicide earlier this month took workers off guard, the facility chief said Thursday.

Superintendent William T. Wilson reported on the June 11 suicide of Leon Joseph Cominsky to members of the RSW Regional Jail Authority’s Finance and Personnel Committee.

“Even though we have everything in place – we have all kinds of cameras and we do our rounds – there’s still an opportunity for inmates to do self-harm,” Wilson said. “I mean we can’t watch every person 24-7 and, unfortunately, these things do happen. I hate it when it does.

“This was not expected by anybody so, like I said, Warren County (Sheriff’s Office) is still investigating that,” Wilson said.

The superintendent said after the meeting that he couldn’t comment on whether or not the inmate had a history of mental illness, citing medical privacy rules. Cominsky had not caused any concerns for jail workers up to that point, Wilson said.

“We hadn’t any issues with him,” Wilson said. “He was not a problem.”

Cominsky died June 12 at Winchester Medical Center, a day after jail workers found him hanging in his cell, according to information the superintendent released last week. Employees found Cominsky hanging in his cell and unresponsive at approximately 11:30 a.m. June 11. Staff members performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived at the jail. Responders transported Cominsky to Warren Memorial Hospital and later to Winchester Medical Center where he died at approximately 11:37 a.m. June 12.

Cominsky stayed on life support for about 24 hours before being removed, Wilson said.

Cominsky, 55, of Martinez, Georgia, was held at the jail on charges out of Shenandoah County of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, felony hit-and-run and assault on a law enforcement officer. Cominsky also was charged with reckless driving and failing to stop in Staunton and Augusta County as well as reckless driving and malicious wounding in Rockingham County. Cominsky first was incarcerated at RSW Regional Jail on June 2, 2015, but also spent time at the Rockingham Regional Jail and Middle River Regional Jail in Staunton. Cominsky had returned to RSW Regional Jail on April 28.

The death remains under investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Cominsky’s death is at least the third for the regional jail since the facility opened in the summer of 2014. Keith Vance Funk, 73, died in July 2015 of natural causes stemming from heart ailments. Brendon Garrett Sullins, 26, died Feb. 13 of natural causes, according to information provided last week by the county sheriff’s office.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com