Inmate dies; Sheriff asks SLED to investigate

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

PICKENS — The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has turned to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for assistance in investigating the hanging death of an inmate.

Sheriff Rick Clark made the request Saturday, shortly after the body of Michael Morris, 34, of Easley, was found in an area used as a cell within the Pickens County Detention Center. Sheriff’s office officials said its policy is to request an independent investigation by an outside entity any time a death occurs inside the facility.

A news release issued by the sheriff’s office said at approximately 2:10 a.m., a detention officer found a man hanging from a sheet in a bathroom inside the facility. The release said the victim was unconscious, and immediate efforts to revive the victim were unsuccessful.

Pickens County coroner Kandy Kelley pronounced the victim dead at the scene and later identified him as Morris.

Morris had been jailed since June 29, when Easley police arrested him on multiple counts of third-offense criminal sexual conduct. At the time of Saturday’s incident, the sheriff’s office said the inmate was being detained by himself in an arraignment room that was being used as a makeshift cell due to overcrowding at the jail.

The detention facility was built in 1974 and has a rated capacity of 93, with a current population of 208. Authorities said four detention officers were on duty overseeing the jail population when the incident occurred, while a fifth officer was at the hospital guarding an inmate receiving health care.