Sheriff: Inmate found dead from apparent suicide

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe, right, speaks with Kent Sandquist, physicians assistant from Malheur Memorial Health Clinic during a media tour of the jail in January of 2018. An inmate was found dead in his single cell on Sunday morning and Wolfe says it was an apparent suicide.

VALE — A 47-year-old transient man lodged in the Malheur County Jail apparently committed suicide over the weekend.

Zelon Oneal, whose driver's license indicates he last lived in Utah, was due in court today to face charges of criminal mischief in the first degree, a felony, along with multiple misdemeanors. These included escape in the third degree, interfering with a peace officer, resisting arrest and menacing.

He was being held on a $55,000 bail.

According to court records online, Oneals’ court-appointed attorney had sought an aid and assist evaluation since Sept. 27, and a court hearing for a status check was set for today.

It is unclear at this time if Oneal ever received a mental health evaluation by a certified examiner, to see if he was well enough to aid and assist his own defense in a court setting.

Wolfe said O’Neal was discovered dead in his single cell at 5:44 a.m. Sunday morning by a deputy who was serving breakfast.

O’Neal was initially booked into the jail on Aug. 30 by Ontario Police, Wolfe said, with his first initial law enforcement contact having occurred seven days prior to that.

Although the jail has cameras, there are no cameras in single cells, according to the sheriff.

Oregon State Police was contacted to conduct the investigation, Wolfe said, indicating they would be looking to ensure there were no criminal elements and that it was actually a suicide.

A request for more information from State Police has not yet been returned.

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