Boy strangled at youth lockup was playing tug-of-war with sheets

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 18, 2011 6:33 PM
Boy strangled at youth lockup was playing tug-of-war with sheets

By Marice Richter

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - Authorities are investigating the unusual strangulation death of a 14-year-old boy at a privately-run Texas juvenile detention center who was found unconscious in his cell with a sheet around his neck.

The teenager, Jordan Adams, died after he and a youth in an adjoining cell were apparently engaged in some type of tug-of-war earlier this month with bed sheets under the doors of their cells, police said.

The death at the Granbury Regional Juvenile Justice Center in Cleburne, about 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth, was the first death at a juvenile detention facility in Texas since 2003.

"The sheet was around his neck," Granbury Police Captain Alan Hines told Reuters on Tuesday. "We are investigating to determine whether this was an accident or there needs to be criminal charges for homicide."

Hines said the boy who died had apparently wrapped the sheet around his own neck, and it was unclear if the other youth realized he was choking.

Adams was found unconscious by a guard and taken to a Fort Worth hospital. He died on Sunday, Hines said.

The medical examiner's office in Fort Worth ruled the death asphyxiation by strangulation with the cause of death pending. Meanwhile, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission is trying to determine whether the death was a result of lax oversight.

"This is a very sad situation," said Lisa Capers, deputy executive director and general counsel of the commission. "Our investigation is ongoing and is being conducted with very high priority."

Ted Cooley, administrator of the facility, said changes were being discussed to prevent any similar incidents from happening in the future and that while gaps under the doors allowed for ventilation, they had now become an issue.

"We don't want anything like this to ever happen again," he said.

Most Texas juvenile detention facilities are state-run rather than privately operated. The 96-bed facility in Cleburne is owned by 4-M Youth Services.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Cynthia Johnston)