The 42-year-old Minneapolis woman who killed herself in the Hennepin County jail this week showed no obvious signs of mental problems when she was arrested and brought to the jail, the State Patrol said Friday.
But grieving relatives of Carolyn Lisa Dean said by phone Friday that she suffered from depression, though they declined to say more about her or her death.
A trooper arrested Dean on suspicion of drunken driving just after 4 p.m. Wednesday on Hwy. 62 near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and took her to the jail.
At 8 p.m., deputies found her in a holding cell with the metal cord from the cell's wall-mounted telephone around her neck, several hours after she had been booked.
"If there had been something we would have told the jail," said Lt. Mark Peterson of the State Patrol.
As a result of the death, the first at the facility since it opened in 2000, the Sheriff's Office is conducting an internal investigation.
The death also is the first suicide at a Hennepin County jail in 12 years.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," Chief Deputy Mike Carlson said Friday..
Jailers found Dean, alone in the cell, during a mandatory check performed every half- hour. The check was done well within the allotted time, officials said. Inspector Chester Cooper, who oversees the jail, declined to discuss Dean's demeanor or behavior when she was booked.
There are two ways an arresting officer can alert the jail if concerns arise about a person being brought in for booking, Cooper said. An officer could orally notify jail personnel or check a box on required paperwork that would indicate the officer's concern about a mental health issue or suicide, he said.
If there is an issue, the person would be taken immediately to a nurse at the jail and the supervisor on duty would be notified. An assessment would then determine the appropriate housing area and level of supervision, Cooper said.
The cell she was in, which has no bars, houses inmates until overnight arrangements are made. It can house several inmates, though Dean was alone at the time. Inmates can be seen through a Plexiglas window.
The Hennepin County medical examiner classified Dean's death a suicide, with "ligature hanging" as the cause.
The last inmate to commit suicide in a Hennepin County jail was Philip Hott, 18, who used a bed sheet to hang himself in 1996. Hott was in a housing unit at the jail's former facility in Minneapolis City Hall.
Court records show Dean pleaded guilty in April 2007 to drunken driving and disorderly conduct. She was given a 45-day stayed sentence and placed on probation.