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Cook County Jail detainee dies by suicide: officials – Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainee dies by suicide: officials – Chicago Tribune
Cook County Jail detainee dies by suicide: officials – Chicago Tribune

A detainee at the Cook County Jail died by suicide Thursday morning, according to officials.

Correctional officers discovered Thomas Pfost unresponsive at 2:12 a.m. Thursday, said Cook County Sheriff’s spokesperson Matt Walberg.

Pfost was being held in custody on multiple charges, including aggravated robbery, unlawful restraint and violation of electronic monitoring, Walberg added.

Pfost had been found in a shower area inside the jail with a bed sheet fastened around his neck, Walberg said. Jail staff attempted lifesaving measures and paramedics transported Pfost to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to Walberg.

An autopsy performed by the Cook County medical examiner’s office determined that Pfost died from asphyxia and ruled the death a suicide.

“There were no indications that foul play was a factor in his death,” Walberg said. The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force has begun an investigation into Pfost’s death per protocol, he added.

Pfost’s father, David Pfost, said his son had struggled with substance abuse and psychological issues, but described him as an intelligent, religious person.

“He was my son and I love him with all my heart,” David Pfost said. “This kid was so smart. He knew stuff that I wouldn’t even dream of knowing, about life itself, different places, the wars going on.”

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The sheriff’s office said Pfost was 29-years-old, but his father said he was 30. His son had grappled with medicine changes before his death, and his “greatest fear” was going back to the Stateville Correctional Center, a state-run maximum security prison, David Pfost said.

David Pfost called his son nearly every day. Sometimes Thomas was only allowed to leave his cell for two hours a day, and they would talk then, he said.

“I figured they’d be keeping an eye on him under the circumstances, but I guess they weren’t keeping it good enough,” David Pfost said.

He added that he wonders if other people had caused his son’s death, in part because his son had gotten into a fight at the jail two weeks earlier.

Pfost had been in and out of jail and state prison facilities for several years, his father said. He had been admitted to Cook County Jail in October 2018, then was placed on electronic monitoring before being brought back to jail in November 2020, sheriff’s office officials said.

“He was a good kid. If he had just gotten his life together and got out and did things on the level, he would have been a really, really good, prosperous person. But now I’m going to have to lay him to rest on Wednesday,” Pfost’s father said.

jsheridan@chicagotribune.com

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