Family questions circumstances surrounding Cottage Grove man's Illinois jail-related deathThe family of a Cottage Grove man who was found unresponsive in an Illinois jail cell is raising questions about his death.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
The family of a Cottage Grove man who was found unresponsive in an Illinois jail cell is raising questions about his death.
The Kane County Sheriff’s Office said last week that it is investigating the death of Keith D. Renfroe, 20, after he was found unresponsive in his jail cell and later died after being removed from life support at a Chicago-area hospital.
Mike Padden, an attorney for Renfroe’s parents, said the 20-year-old was healthy when he was booked into the Kane County jail on May 18 for alleged felony criminal trespassing. Also, Padden claimed that early information provided to the family by a Kane County sheriff’s official conflicts with statements by doctors and a nurse who saw Renfroe after he was hospitalized. The family has started its own investigation.
“These people are devastated,” Padden, of St. Paul, said of Renfroe’s parents. “You’ve got a perfectly healthy kid and all of the sudden he’s dead.”
According to a sheriff’s office news release, a jail officer saw Renfroe standing by the sink and toilet area of his cell shortly before 2 a.m. May 19. During a check about 20 minutes later, the jail officer found Renfroe lying face down and unresponsive. Medical staff performed CPR on him until he was transported to an area hospital emergency room less than an hour later and eventually moved to an intensive care unit.
Renfroe was in intensive care until May 24, when he was removed from life support. The sheriff’s office said that was at the family’s request, but Padden said Renfroe’s parents were not given much of an option.
“It was more along the lines of, ‘He’s deceased, folks. There’s nothing that can be done. There’s no choice,’” Padden claimed Renfroe’s parents were told at the hospital.
The county coroner’s office conducted an autopsy, and those autopsy and toxicology results were pending.
The cause of death is in question, Padden said.
A sheriff’s official initially told Renfroe’s parents that the man had hanged himself in his cell, Padden said, but hospital medical experts and a doctor hired by the family to observe the official autopsy said there was no evidence that Renfroe died of asphyxiation. The family also hired a doctor to conduct a second autopsy.
The sheriff’s office is investigating the death but provided no further information.
Kane County is on the western edge of the Chicago area.
According to state court records, Renfroe’s criminal record includes convictions for burglary and drunken driving in Washington and Dakota counties, respectively.