Questions surround jail suicides of NW youth
Port Angeles, Washington -
On the evening of Sept. 24, Miles Eli Schulmeister was found dead in his cell at the Clallam County Jail. Port Angeles Police, who ruled the death a suicide, say Schulmeister hung himself with a bed sheet from an 18" bunk bed post, twisting his body around to strangle himself.
The day before, Schulmeister had gone in to voluntarily talk to police regarding a statutory rape allegation. According to friends, Schulmeister believed that if he talked with police, they would hear his side of the story, and no charges would be filed.
"When he went in to talk with police, he was laughing and joking. He told us he would come by to see us afterwards," said Jake Lee, friend of Schulmeister.
But after a lengthy four hour interrogation, Schulmeister was arrested and charged on suspicion of statutory rape and marijuana poesession with the intent to distribute.
What might have happened during and after the interrogation worries friends of Schulmeister. Friends remember that Schulmeister had a troubled past that included being raped as a child, and they know that during the interrogation police had threatened Schulmeister with being raped by inmates in prison.
In general, Schulmeister was a happy, outgoing and honest person. Friends say that he was not the type to have hid his emotions, and they are sure that if he had become suicidal the police would have known.
"He was a really happy person. He wouldn't just sit there and be depressed, he would do something about it," said Ellen Tetrick.
Detectives question friends of Miles
During the police investigation of Schulmeister Tracey Millsap, 14, was pulled out of her school by Detective Jesse Winfield, who did not ask the permission of her teachers or principal.
"He told me he wanted me to sign a statement saying Miles had raped me, and I told him no. He kept trying to make me sign it, and I kept telling him I didn't want to," Millsap said.
Friends protest outside Courthouse, seeking justice
Up to 80 friends and family members of Schulmeister have been protesting outside the Clallam County Courthouse daily in attempt to bring attention to the questionable circumstances surrounding Schulmeister's alleged suicide.
Holding signs that read "The System didn't work for Miles", "Guilty until proven innocent", and "Fear the system", they say they are seeking justice for their friend.
Police arrest friends of Miles at public gathering in his memory
After the memorial service for Schulmeister, friends gathered at the Port Angeles pier to remember him. Some used spray paint to write on the walls, "R.I.P. Miles". Shortly afterwards police arrived.
Eleslie Dean, 16, was one of those arrested for the graffiti, though he denies taking part.
"A cop came up to me, yelling that I needed to back off and grabbed me by the wrist, slamming me into the hood of my friends car. When they put me in the cop car, my nose started bleeding," says Dean.
"At my arraignment, the judge for my case told me not to attend any of the protests for Miles, or I would be arrested again."
Six months earlier, another suicide in the same jail
Cannon Levi Maynock, who was 23, comitted suicide by hanging himself in the Clallam County Jail six months prior to Schulmeister's suicide. Maynock was arrested for taking his parents car without their permission, and theft of a television and money.
Mardy Melberg, Maynock's girlfriend, remembers a call from the Clallam County Sheriff early one morning.
"He asked what we talked about when I had called him (Maynock) the night before. I asked him, why? He said we are closing an investigation, and I said, Levi's dead, huh? He said "Yes." I told him I had to go, and he said no. Then I found out that Levi was in a coma."
Maynock was reported suicidal two weeks before he went in according to Melberg, though the police deny this. Cannon Levi Maynock died on March 8th.
Newspaper articles on Schulmeister and Maynock: http://www.stopwhalekill.org/pa/suicides.html