Growing concerns after third Shasta County in-custody death in two weeks

REDDING — For the third time in just two weeks Shasta County Sheriff’s Office officials have announced the in-custody death of an inmate who died yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 25. Today’s announcement comes amidst growing scrutiny, calls for action, and demands for answers as to how and why the Redding facility has experienced three deaths in just 14 days. The previous two in-custody deaths happened ten days apart, on Sept. 12 and 22.

Located at 1655 West St., the Shasta County Jail – which can hold up to 483 prisoners, including 403 males and 80 females – is a high security detention facility used for the housing of persons awaiting arraignment, undergoing trial, and upon a sentence of commitment.

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Coroner officials have identified the most recent inmate to pass away as Leo Frank Graham, 42, of Redding. According to officials, Graham was serving a 16-month sentence on charges of harming a police service dog (K-9) and two counts of obstructing/delaying/resisting arrest, as well as a warrant for failure to appear in court on a weapons offense.

The two inmates who died in custody earlier this month have been identified as 58-year-old, Teddy Woodrow Abbie, and 31-year-old, John David Adena. Both men were Redding residents.

Officials had previously announced that Abbie died Sept 12 after being placed into a safety cell after making suicidal statements to jail staff and being involved in a “confrontation” and becoming combative with correctional deputies and other jail staff members. He was later found unresponsive inside the safety cell and passed away at the facility.

According to officials, Adena – the second inmate to die this month – was found having medical difficulties inside his cell on the morning of Sept. 22. Despite being rushed to the jail’s medical unit for treatment he also subsequently passed away at the facility.

Third in-custody death in two weeks

Officials say Leo Frank Graham, 42, died after being treated at Shasta Regional Medical Center for a gastro-intestinal tract complaint. After being medically cleared by doctors to return to the jail facility, Graham reportedly became unresponsive and despite advanced life-saving efforts died at the hospital. His passing was the third in-custody death in Shasta County in the last two weeks.

The sequence of events that led to yesterday’s death began Wednesday, Sept. 25 around 1:30 a.m., when Graham was transported to Shasta Regional Medical Center “for treatment of a suspected gastro-intestinal tract complaint,” Shasta County Sheriff’s Custody Division Commander Cpt. Dave Kent explained late last night.

“Graham was treated by hospital personnel throughout the morning and was later medically cleared to return to custody at about 8:30 a.m.,” Kent continued.

Although being medically cleared to return to the jail, while deputies were escorting Graham out of the hospital to a waiting vehicle for transportation back to the jail, the inmate’s condition rapidly declined and he “became unresponsive,” according to Kent.

Graham was rushed back into the hospital “and life-saving efforts were immediately initiated,” the Cpt. explained.

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Despite advanced life-saving measures, Graham was pronounced deceased by hospital staff at 9:17 a.m.

Graham’s family has since been notified of his passing and a postmortem examination has been scheduled for next week to determine the cause and manner of his death.

His death, like Abbie’s and Aden’s is currently being investigated by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Coroner’s Office. Due to the circumstances and nature of events that led to Abbie’s passing, Redding Police Department is the lead investigating agency in his death.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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