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Jail inmate dies after being found with cord around neck

SYCAMORE – Police have identified the woman who died Friday at the DeKalb County Jail as Brandi L. Brantley, 19, of DeKalb.

Brantley, who was awaiting transfer to a rehabilitation facility, was found unconscious in a visitation room Friday afternoon by jail guards. Police said a telephone cord was wrapped around her neck and she was covered with a blanket. Brantley had been placed in the visitation room because the normal holding cells for inmates awaiting booking were full.

She died later Friday afternoon at Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office has launched an internal investigation into her death.

Brantley, who had been in the jail since about 11:30 a.m., was found about 2:45 p.m. Friday by a corrections officer on duty in the jail, DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said.

The officers found Brantley unresponsive and under a blanket, Scott said. When deputies removed the blanket, they found a telephone cord wrapped around her neck. Officers immediately began first aid and rescue procedures, and she was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital by ambulance, police said. She was pronounced dead on arrival at KCH.

The department’s preliminary investigation found that Brantley took her own life, Scott said, but he declined to comment beyond that Friday night regarding the cause of death.

DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said an autopsy is planned for 10:30 a.m. Monday. He declined to speculate on a cause of death Friday, saying he would prefer to wait until the autopsy is completed.

“It’s been a difficult day for everybody,” Scott said. “We send our condolences and our regrets to the family of the victim.”

The last death in the jail was eight to 10 years ago, Scott said, when an inmate was found hanged in the jail block.

Brantley had been sent to the jail earlier in the day by the DeKalb County Drug Court, which met at 11 a.m. Friday at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore. She  was in the jail as officials looked for an opening in a rehabilitation facility for her, Scott said.

Drug court was started about two years ago and is an intensive counseling and rehabilitation program that works to help addicts kick their habit, reunite families and build self-esteem. Solely for nonviolent offenders who are not drug dealers, the five-phase program is intended to end the cycle of incarceration, release and new crimes that lands addicts back in police custody.

Participants must go through residential treatment for their addiction, then have a stringent regimen to follow that includes daily check-ins, frequent drug testing and, often, weekly court appearances. Participants also must find work and attend counseling, as well as pay all court fines and restitution.

On Friday, Scott said the jail’s holding cells were full when Brantley was brought in, so she was put alone in a visitation room on the main floor. That room typically contains a chair and a phone, he said.

Rounds are done in the cell block area of the jail every 30 minutes, Scott said. The visitation room is not part of the cell block.

“I’m not sure how often she was checked on; that’s what part of our review will show,” he said, adding that a deputy checked on Brantley at least once about an hour before she was discovered unconscious. Scott said that, to his knowledge, she did not exhibit any signs of suicidal behavior to the officers.

There are cameras in the visitation room, Scott said, and a deputy is assigned to watch the screens.

Jail supervisor Lt. Joyce Klein referred calls for comment Friday to the sheriff. An internal review of the situation has already begun, Scott said. The sheriff’s office is being assisted by the county state’s attorney’s office and coroner’s office.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Ron Matekaitis said his office would assist the sheriff “in any way they request and review their findings when completed.”


All times are approximate
11 a.m. Drug court convenes at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.
11:30 a.m. Brandi Brantley is sent from drug court to the DeKalb County Jail pending an opening in a rehabilitation facility. She is put in a visitation room because holding cells are full.
1:45-2 p.m. An officer with the DeKalb County Corrections staff checks on her and speaks with her.
2:45 p.m. Brantley is found unconscious with a cord around her neck and covered by a blanket. She is pronounced dead shortly afterward on arrival at Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb.

Source: DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott

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