Inmate jailed for armed robbery in Harford dies

A Cecil County man who was being held at the Harford County Detention Center in connection with a recent string of armed robberies in Harford, Cecil and Baltimore counties died early Friday morning, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said late Saturday morning.

According to a news release from the sheriff's office, at approximately 10:55 p.m Thanksgiving, inmate Michael Ray Malpass, 26, was found unresponsive in his cell by a Harford County Detention Center correctional officer while on a routine tour of the inmate area where Malpass was housed.

Sheriff's office call for service records examined by The Aegis summarize that a male was "unconscious, not breathing" and the caller stated the subject was an "inmate in cardiac arrest."

Malpass was housed alone for medical reasons, according to the news release, which states correctional officers immediately began life-saving measures.

Malpass was transported by Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company ambulance to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, where he was pronounced dead at 12:08 a.m. Friday.

"It is not being investigated as a suicide," Monica Worrell, the public information officer for the sheriff's office, said.

Malpass was an admitted IV heroin user, Worrell said, and he was on medical watch because he was detoxing from the IV heroin use.

Worrell said correctional officers were checking Malpass every 15 minutes because of the detox. When he was found unresponsive, it appeared he had vomited, she said.

The sheriff's office is waiting to hear back from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on a cause of death, Worrell added.

There were no signs of foul play, according to the earlier news release.

Harford Sheriff Jesse Bane said Tuesday the matter remains under investigation and while he couldn't discuss specifics, "there is nothing to indicate that there were any issues surrounding the death."

Bane said when deaths and major incidents occur at the detention center, the area is secured and the sheriff's office criminal investigations division is called in to determine if any criminal actions occurred.

The sheriff said his agency also will evaluate its policies to see if there were any failures or if changes are necessary to prevent a similar occurrence.

"The death is still being investigated within our protocols," he said, noting that a key piece of information is still pending — the cause of death finding from the medical examiner based on the autopsy.

"We have been very transparent," Bane said about his policy on disclosing deaths and other incidents at the jail. "Not every holding facility in the state is that way."

Malpass, a resident of Charlestown in Cecil County, had been housed in the detention center since Nov. 18, the morning after he was arrested by Maryland State Police in Cecil County in connection with five armed robberies that began Nov. 9 at the Maryland House travel plaza on I-95 near Aberdeen, where a man held up the Exxon station.

He was being held without bond and awaiting trial for armed robbery and first- and second-degree assault, all in connection with the Maryland House robbery, as well as for failing to appear in court in connection with an earlier probation violation case.

State police had said they believed Malpass was responsible for robberies at convenience stores/gas stations in Aberdeen, Perryville and Overlea and at a Rite Aid drug store in Havre de Grace. He had not been charged in any of those crimes, however.

According to figures from the sheriff's office, 16 detention center inmates have died in custody since 1990.

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