UPDATE (8:45 p.m.) – After inconclusive results on the initial autopsy, Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said they will rely heavily on the results of biopsies and toxicology tests to figure out how what caused a Peoria County Jail inmate death over the weekend.
33-year-old Erick Lunchsford was found unresponsive, not breathing, and without a pulse just after midnight Saturday. Harwood said there were no immediate signs as to what caused his death, either inside or outside of his body.
There are sometimes clear signs of what caused death, like a heart with clogged arteries for instance. without those clear signs, it can be hard to determine how a person as young as Luncsford died.
Now they must wait several weeks for test results to come back. Toxicology tests will determine what was in his bloodstream at the time of his death. Other tests can provide a histological view of his health, meaning they can trace back health problems even if Luncsford was unaware of them.
“Particularly when we have someone that’s passed away in the setting of the jail, [cause of death] is pending because we want to make sure everything and every stone is unturned so we can find a cause of death,” Harwood said.
Sheriff Chris Watkins did not provide any further details on the case. Luncsford’s death is under investigation by Illinois State Police, which is a common procedure for deaths in police custody.
Luncsford was arrested on August 28 on a warrant for indirect criminal contempt. According to his court record, he had two open cases for domestic battery in 2020. Those charges are the ones connected to this warrant in the Peoria County Court record system.
His second most recent charge was for failure to reduce speed, driving an uninsured motor vehicle, and driving on a suspended license. All three are misdemeanor or petty offenses.
Luncsford was supposed to appear before a judge Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. for those charges.
PEORIA (25News Now) – The autopsy on a Peoria County Jail inmate was inconclusive.
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says the autopsy on Erick C. Luncsford, 33, is pending further studies.
Harwood says Luncsford was pronounced deceased in his cell at 12:33 a.m. Saturday.
He was last reported as homeless.
First responders were called to the jail at around 11:35 p.m. Friday for Luncsford, who was found inside his cell, unresponsive, not breathing and with no pulse.
Luncsford’s death is under investigation by the coroner’s office and Illinois State Police.
Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins says a correctional officer suffered a medical event while giving Luncsford CPR. That officer was taken to this hospital and is doing OK.
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