Middletown jail death ruled suicide

Michael Linton Jr., 35, of Yankee Road, died of cerebral hypoxia due to hanging, according to information released by the coroner’s office today following an autopsy.

The last time Teresa Brooks talked to her son on the phone, he was an inmate in the Middletown City Jail.

He told her: “I’m never going to see you again.”

On Monday afternoon, four days after he was charged with three counts of aggravated robbery, Linton was found dead in his jail cell.

Maj. Mark Hoffman from the Middletown Division of Police said Linton was alone in his cell so police don’t suspect foul play. The investigation is continuing, he said.

When Brooks, 55, was notified Monday by police that her son had died in jail, she remembered he said he never wanted to go back to prison. If convicted of the robberies, Linton faced nine to 30 years in prison, according to court officials.

“It was quite traumatic,” Brooks said of hearing the news. “I haven’t been the same since.”

Linton, a single father of 10-year-old son Bryson Linton, never talked about committing suicide, his mother said.

“Maybe he wasn’t right in the mind at the time,” she said.

But one of Linton’s cousins, Kenya Gibbs, 38, of Middletown, paints a different picture. She said Linton was admitted into Atrium Medical Center two months ago for evaluation after he had suicidal thoughts. He stayed there for four days, she said.

Gibbs said Linton struggled with drug addiction, and he robbed to support his habit.

“He had a really messed up life,” she said. “It’s sad.”

From February 1998 to January 2011, Linton spent nearly 11 years in Ohio prisons, according to records obtained by the Journal-News. He served three years in Warren Correctional Institution for felonious assault; three years in Ross Correctional Institution for burgulary and theft; and four years in Mansfield Correctional Institution for robbery and theft.

Brooks said when her son tried to escape out of his holding cell Friday before his hearing, he injured his head. She was surprised he wasn’t transported to Atrium Medical Center for treatment.

“Jail is supposed to be a safe place, not a place to die,” she said.

Linton was arrested Aug. 6 for allegedly committing two robberies at Marsh Supermarket, 621 N. University Blvd., and a few hours later, for allegedly robbing American Savings Bank, 701 N. University Blvd., on Aug. 6.

Hoffman said Linton was located by police in a relative’s residence on Riverview Avenue. He was found hiding under a pile of clothes, Hoffman said. No one was injured, he said.

While Linton was awaiting his arraignment the next day, he allegedly tried to escape from his holding cell by removing a light fixture and ceiling tile, court officials said. He faced additional charges after he tried to escape, according to court records.

Charges of escape and vandalism were added and his bond increased from $300,000 to $335,000, officials said. Linton was scheduled to appear for his preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Middletown Municipal Court.