The Man Who Ate Razor Blades: What Caused Death of County Jail Inmate Timothy M. Jones?

First of two parts

Seattle Police had their hands full when they arrested Timothy Michael Jones, 34, for property destruction and harassment. On April Fool's Day, the ex-con had been admitted to Swedish Hospital for swallowing razor blades. Eight days later, police were called to take him away after he began damaging equipment in his hospital room and bit into his finger, threatening to spit blood on a nurse. Placed in restraints, he proceeded to bite the insides of his mouth and spew blood around the room.

Police took Jones to the downtown King County Jail where things didn't get much better. Records obtained by Seattle Weekly show he'd spent the previous eight years, and much of his teen years, in adult and juvenile prisons, and didn't care for being locked up.

He has a history of assaulting other inmates and staff in prison and jails and a record that includes burglary, rape of a child, escape, and arson. Records show he sometimes faked illnesses, mutilated himself, and had attempted suicide.

Not long after being booked, he tore off his plastic wrist band and tried to swallow it, and fought with custody officers.

Jones was put under constant watch in the infirmary, as he was known to have epileptic seizures, then later isolated in a suicide watch unit. At one point, he asked to be placed on a restraint board, but that request was denied. On his fourth day in jail, he flooded his cell, and the water was turned off.

On April 15, Jones indicated to guards he was having a seizure. Two nurses and a sergeant responded. According to jail records, "Medical Staff determined that Jones is Faking/Intentionally Presenting this behavior to try and get staff to enter his cell." Staff was told during a "psych huddle" that Jones "will try to create situations that put staff at risk. Jones has stated recently that his goal is to be institutionalized for life."

The next day, around 3:30 p.m., Jones was seen lying face down on his cell floor. An officer couldn't tell if he was breathing. When a sergeant entered the cell three minutes later, he found Jones blue in the face and without a pulse. Rescue efforts began and a Medic One unit arrived eight minutes later, subsequently rushing Jones to Harborview Medical Center. He died three days later.

His death was the jail's second this year after federal officials signed off on two years worth of reforms in February intended to, among other things, prevent inmate deaths.

The jail's report on the death does not list a cause, but the King County Medical Examiner's office tells SW that, while Jones apparently suffered a seizure, investigators could not determine what, exactly, he died from. "Cause unexplained," said a spokesperson.

There was one certainty: This time, lying on his cell floor, Jones wasn't faking.

Tomorrow: Inmate hangs self in midst of fed, county effort to end suicides.

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