September was a particularly tragic month for inmates in California’s Shasta County Jail in Redding. In a matter of weeks, three inmates succumbed, two within the jail itself and another returning after medical treatment at a local hospital.
Two Weeks, Three Deaths
The first death occurred on September 12. Teddy Woodrow Abbie, 58, Redding, was found unresponsive in his cell. He reportedly spoke of committing suicide to jail employees. Prior to his death, he had become combative with deputies as they attempted to put him in a safety cell. The results of the autopsy have not yet been released.
Ten days later, John Adena, 31, a former firefighter and medical aid, was found experiencing “medical difficulties” in his cell by staff and a nurse. Within hours, the young man was dead. Wellpath, the nation’s largest provider of healthcare for jails and prisons, is in charge of medical treatment for Shasta County inmates.
Prior to his arrest on August 17 for intoxication and causing a disturbance at the hospital where he was formerly employed, Adena had never been in trouble with the law with the exception of a traffic ticket. His family says his behavior on the night he was arrested was completely out of character. Adena’s autopsy was scheduled for September 26.
The third death happened just three days later. Leo Frank Graham, 42, was brought to Shasta Regional Medical Center in the early morning hours of September 25 after suffering a gastrointestinal complaint. His treatment was completed just before 9 a.m., and was Graham was taken to a vehicle to bring him back to jail when he became unresponsive.
Although he was immediately brought back into the hospital and life-saving efforts began, Graham succumbed at 9:17 a.m. He had been serving a 16-month sentence on charges of resisting arrest, failing to appear, and hurting a K-9 officer. His autopsy is scheduled for the week of September 30.
Are the Deaths Related?
According to the Shasta County Sherriff’s Office, the Shasta County Jail is a “high-security local detention facility” capable of holding 483 prisoners, divided between 403 males and 80 females. In the past, the facility does not appear to have had an exceptional number of inmate deaths. In 2015, an inmate was found hanged to death in his cell, with a jail-issued towel around his neck. Other inmates said the victim had recently appeared depressed.
The most pressing question is whether the deaths of the three men were related. Since autopsy results are not available or not yet released, there is no way to know of similarities in their deaths presently. When asked about Adena’s death, Shasta County Sheriff's Captain Dave Kent said that some inmates come into the jail “in poor health,” but would not elaborate on the medical difficulties Adena suffered.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit is investigating the deaths of Adena and Graham, while the Redding Police Department is in charge of the investigation into Abbie’s demise.
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