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Inmate kills self in Tonopah jail with bed sheets

A Tonopah jail inmate was reportedly found hanging in his cell Wednesday by Nye County Sheriff’s deputies. The death was an apparent suicide.

Ricky Hampton, 55, reportedly used his bed sheets to kill himself. He was incarcerated since August on allegations of unlawful use of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, convicted felon in possession of a firearm and a habitual criminal charge relating to an August arrest in Amargosa Valley.

According to Sheriff Tony DeMeo, Hampton left a note behind explaining his decision. There was no earlier indication the man was contemplating taking his own life. In fact, an earlier psychological evaluation had found nothing wrong with the inmate.

“All I can say is looking at the preliminary investigation he was checked on, according to our policy, which falls within the requirements of jail practices. When he was discovered, they tried performing CPR on him, but unfortunately it wasn’t successful,” DeMeo said. “Every jail administrator throughout the country doesn’t want to see someone injure themselves or attempt to take their own life. There are a lot of policies and procedures in jail. There’s practices that are required, we do that, our policy pretty much mirrors policies that are expected in jails. But like I said, he was checked on, there’s documentation he was checked on, and it was in between checks that he decided to take his own life.”

Hampton’s wife Mary described the man as a friendly person that everyone liked.

She added that she wanted people to know Hampton was innocent as he sat in the county jail awaiting court proceedings in his case.

DeMeo said his office was still in the process of investigating the death Thursday and that they were continuing to interview other inmates and staff as well as review video and phone records to see if there was any sign of his intentions they might have missed.

“There was no indication that this was his intent or else we would have had him under suicide watch,” the sheriff said.

DeMeo did add that Hampton was currently serving a 90-day sanction in the facility after he had been found guilty of grievances filed against him by other inmates and people outside the jail for harassment, abusing his phone privileges, threats and possession of stolen property.

“A lot of people don’t realize jail is a community within itself, so we have to maintain order within the facility. We had complaints from the outside of phone harassment and he was also in possession of property stolen from other inmates. On Oct. 21, he was found guilty of threats, he was found guilty of abuse of the phones, harassment and also stolen property. He did cause a disruption and he did have a 90-day sanction he was serving since October,” the sheriff said.

An autopsy was scheduled to take place in Washoe County.

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