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Rikers Island inmate 'bakes to death' in hot cell: Scorching heat malfunction

NYC inmate bakes to death in his cell. Heat over 100 degrees from malfunctioning equipment.
Wikimedia Commons

A NYC inmate baked to death in his cell on Rikers Island after the heating equipment malfunctioned. The temperature of his cell was reportedly at least 100 degrees and he succumbed to the extreme heat, according to NBC News on March 19.

The 56-year-old former Marine was mentally ill. When he got cold last month he curled up and went to sleep in an enclosed stairwell in a Harlem housing project. This got Jerome Murdough arrested and thrown in jail for trespassing.

Murdough was mentally ill and he was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have left him vulnerable to the heat. One of the prison’s officials said that “he basically baked to death.” There was a small vent in Murdough's cell that he could have opened to let in cold air, which is what other inmates did on his block. For some reason Murdough didn't do this.

The autopsy was inconclusive and the medical examiner said that more tests would need to be done to determine this man’s cause of death. The unnamed officials said that “initial indications from the autopsy and investigation point to extreme dehydration and heat stroke" as the cause of death for this man.

Murdough’s mother said her son was suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and that she had not seen him in about three years. An investigation as to Murdough’s death and the temperature of his cell is on-going today at Rikers.

Department of Correction spokesman Robin Campbell released a statement conveying that an internal investigation will look into all circumstances of Murdough's death. She said this would be "including issues of staff performance and the adequacy of procedures."