Local News

June 1, 2011

Inmate dies in Whitfield jail

GBI investigating

A north Whitfield County man arrested in late March on an aggravated assault charge died while in custody at the Whitfield County jail Friday night, authorities said. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death.

Freddie Joe Singleton, 48, of 760 Reed Pond Road in the Waring community, was found “laying face down and unresponsive” in his cell around 8:45 p.m., according to a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office incident report. Capt. Rick Swiney said Singleton was discovered by a jail officer.

“He was on medication and the detention officer was at his cell to distribute his medication to him when he was discovered unresponsive,” Swiney said. “We cannot advise anyone of the type of medication (he was) taking.”

Swiney said Singleton was in an isolation cell by himself, but explained he could not divulge “medical/mental issues” related to inmates and their separation from other inmates.

Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon said Singleton’s body was sent to the state crime lab for determination of the cause of death.

“During an investigation one of our officers spoke to another inmate who advised us that Mr. Singleton informed (the inmate) earlier in the day that he was experiencing some shortness in his breath and was going to go and lay down,” Swiney said. “This information was not reported to a guard by Mr. Singleton or the other inmate. Due to these initial circumstances it is believed Mr. Singleton may have suffered a heart attack.”

Singleton was charged by the sheriff’s office on March 25 with aggravated assault, terroristic threats and obstruction of officers — all felonies — for an alleged incident that occurred next door to his property.

“A driver for Woodstock Gas went to a vacant residence next to Mr. Singleton’s residence to retrieve a gas tank belonging to (the company),” Swiney said. “While at the vacant residence Mr. Singleton jumped in the truck with the driver and pulled a knife on him and held him there for several minutes. The driver was able to call 911 and sheriff’s office personnel arrived and took Mr. Singleton into custody.”

Swiney said Singleton didn’t know the truck driver and had no connection with the residence where the gas tank was to be removed. Swiney said officers couldn’t ascertain why Singleton pulled the knife on the driver, and reported Singleton was “speaking incoherently” when taken into custody.

Singleton was denied bond in an initial Magistrate Court appearance after his arrest, and was denied bond in Superior Court a few days later. District Attorney Kermit McManus said Singleton was also involved in an incident the day before his arrest, and that both occurrences were “stranger to stranger” crimes.

“A lady had given him a ride and he wouldn’t get out of her car,” McManus said. “He was charged with battery and reckless conduct. His bond was denied pending the disposition of his cases.”

McManus said Singleton had been psychologically evaluated at the jail by a doctor from Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in Rome in late April or early May, and his case was scheduled for presentation before a grand jury.

“He was scheduled to go before the grand jury last Thursday, but he didn’t get to go and I don’t remember why,” McManus said. “I will have to ask an assistant district attorney why (his case) didn’t go.”

Swiney said “standard procedure” in an inmate’s death is for the sheriff’s office to contact the GBI and request that agency to investigate. GBI agent Jerry Scott said his Calhoun office would not release information on its investigation into Singleton’s death until after the crime lab finding and an interview phase.


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