BARTOW – For just the second time in a few weeks, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the death of an inmate at the Polk County Jail.
In both instances, the deaths appear to have been due to natural causes. Even so, the death will be investigated by detectives from the sheriff’s office, said Donna C. Wood, public information officer for Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
“It is standard Polk County Sheriff’s Office policy for mandated, independent investigations to be conducted when an inmate dies,” Wood said in her release on the death. “The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Investigations Section is conducting an internal review. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigations is conducting the death investigation.”
An autopsy is being performed by the Polk County Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death, and the sheriff’s office has notified the State Attorney’s Office about this investigation.
“Upon its completion, Polk County Sheriff’s Office will forward all paperwork to the State Attorney’s Office for their review,” Wood noted.
The death happened on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Bartow Regional Medical Center. The inmate, 50-year-old Jospeh Lorenz of Lakeland, had been transported there at 12:33 p.m. on Sunday after he collapsed in the open bay dorm he was assigned to at the jail.
Lorenz was pronounced dead just minutes later, at 12:57 p.m.
Lorenz, who lived at 305 Colorado Ave. in Lakeland, had been put in the jail on Monday, Feb. 6 for violation of probation. He had been put on probation two months earlier, on Dec. 13 2011, after he was found trespassing on property owned by the CSX rail line company. He was given probation for that offense, but then on Jan. 18 he got charged with petty theft, and his probation officer violated him.
A Polk County warrant was issued and Lorenz was arrested on Feb. 6.
Five days later, at 11:55 a.m., Lorenz was standing in a line with several other inmates at the jail, waiting to get their lunch, when he became ill, Wood noted.
“He was standing on the stairs of the open bay dorm when he began to slump over,” Wood said. “A Polk County Sheriff’s Office detention deputy caught Lorenz as he collapsed. Jail medical staff responded to the dorm and Lorenz was removed from the dorm and was being transported to the jail infirmary when he became unresponsive. Life-saving attempts were administered while he was in the infirmary.”
Emergency medical personnel were called to the jail, and they transported Lorenz to Bartow Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead 25 minutes later.
It’s not clear at this point, Wood said, if Lorenz had a history of health problems.
“Lorenz did not report any pre-existing medical conditions when he was booked into the jail,” she said, adding there were no early indications that Lorenz had been injured by another inmate.
“This is an ongoing death investigation,” Wood said.
While Lorenz’s medical history isn’t clear, his criminal record is. Wood said his criminal history in Polk County alone includes eight prior arrests. Lorenz was booked into jail for felony battery on Feb. 28 2011, larceny, petty theft and dealing in stolen property on Feb. 14 2011, larceny – for removing a shopping cart – on July 20, 2010, battery on May 2 2009, violation of probation on a driving under the influence arrest on Sept. 3 2008, and driving while under the influence in May 2008.
This is the second death of an inmate at a Polk County correctional facility this year. A Haines City man who got the nickname “Roid Rage” died in the Polk Central County Jail on Feb. 2 of an apparent heart attack.
Anthony Dale McKnight, 40, collapsed within minutes of being taken to the jail’s infirmary. He then became unresponsive and stopped breathing. Jail staff performed CPR on McKnight until EMS arrived and continued life-saving measures while transporting him to Bartow Regional Medical Center.
He was pronounced dead at 8:09 a.m.
An autopsy later revealed that McKnight had an enlarged heart, nearly twice the size of a normal adult, and 95 percent blockage in the left descending coronary artery. The cause of death was considered consistent with a heart attack.
McKnight had been arrested by the Haines City Police Department on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and charged with battery domestic violence, possession of marijuana, possession of illegal anabolic steroids, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
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