Original article no longer available
By DAVID HENCH, Blethen Maine Newspapers
Nov 7, 2003
Maine State Police are investigating the death of a 23-year old Sebago woman who died while in the custody of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Sunday night.
The state medical examiner performed an autopsy on Elaine McGeehan Monday but has not released the results. McGeehan was pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center just before midnight.
McGeehan was transported in the back of a cruiser to the Cumberland County Jail after being arrested in Baldwin on a charge of domestic assault, Sheriff Mark Dion said at a news conference. When the cruiser arrived, McGeehan was in “medical distress,” Dion said, and the jail’s medical staff and Portland paramedics were summoned.
After 30 minutes, she was taken to Maine Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
It was not immediately clear what McGeehan died from, authorities said. Dion said the manner and cause of death would be released through the Attorney General’s office, which oversees the state medical examiner. Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said he was not prepared to release anything about the case Monday night.
“I need to know more facts as to what the circumstances were of this death, what led up to it, what contributed to it,” Stokes said. “The autopsy was done (Monday) and the state police are looking to get further information from it.”
The attorney general’s office must be notified whenever a person dies while in state custody, which most often occurs in a prison or jail.
In such cases, the Maine State Police investigates to determine whether there is any criminal conduct associated with the death, Stokes said. Investigators assigned to the attorney general’s office, which investigate use of deadly force by police, have not been assigned to the case. However, Dion said his department is conducting its own internal affairs investigation.
The county’s policy requires staff to obtain medical assistance when a person is in distress, though it does not appear the deputy knew McGeehan was in medical distress until arriving at the jail, Dion said.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to Bridgton Road in Baldwin, by McGeehan’s mother, just before 10 p.m. Deputies arrived within 15 minutes and were able to talk to McGeehan, though she had been drinking heavily, her mother, Cynthia McGeehan said.
“She was very, very violent and very suicidal,” her mother said, noting that her daughter had been taking antidepressants. Cynthia McGeehan said her daughter was under a lot of stress after being assaulted two weeks earlier.