Inmate found hanging in Ohio jail cell was victim of homicide, coroner rules

GEORGETOWN, Ohio - Two months after the hanging death of a Brown County jail inmate, the Brown County Coroner's Office has ruled it a homicide.

Zachary Goldson, 24, was found hanging from a bed sheet in the Adult Detention Center on Oct. 5, nine days after his arrest on Sept. 26.

Brown County Coroner Judith Varnau determined Goldson's death was caused by strangulation.

At about 2:41 a.m. the day before his death, Goldson was taken to a hospital after swallowing a pen. He returned to his cell at 3:38 a.m.

Later that evening at 11:18, he began vomiting after swallowing another pen, as well as a toothbrush and some staples, according to jail documents.

Goldson was scheduled to have an endoscopy to remove the objects and was discharged to Deputy Travis Justice for transportation. But when the deputy unlocked his vehicle, authorities said Goldson attacked him and used his shackles to hit him over the head. Documents say Goldson also attempted to steal the deputy's firearm

Several hospital staff members were out for a smoke break during the attack and were able to hold Goldson down.

At 2:35 a.m., three jail personnel put Goldson back in cell No. 15, first removing his belongings and his blanket. Documents say the three "did not notice" that his bed sheet was still with him.

Twenty-five minutes later, Goldson was dead, found hanging from a sprinkler head in the cell.

Goldson's Family In Shock

"I want to know what happened, and why,” said Goldson’s mother, 46-year-old Christina Dennis. “What went wrong?"

When Goldson was arrested in September, he was charged with having a weapon under disability, possessing a dangerous ordnance -- a sawed off .22-caliber weapon -- and shooting across a roadway near his mother’s home.

Four days before his death, Goldson wrote Dennis and another family member a letter from jail  that discussed his future.

“(I’m) ready to do these 5 years im about to get for these gun charges,” Goldson wrote in the letter. “Im just writin you to tell you I love you…I’m going to miss you both and Im prayin you are still around when I get out because I don’t want to loose my mom while im in jail. (sic)”

After hearing about her son's death, Dennis didn’t know what to believe.

But as time went on, she grew angry and confused – her son had never threatened to hurt himself before, she said.

"At first I thought it was a suicide until all the information started coming in,” she said. “There was so much evidence, it became clear that something was wrong."

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