Tahlequah Daily Press

February 12, 2014

Cherokee County inmate jumps rail in attempt to kill himself

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Authorities are investigating an apparent suicide attempt by a Cherokee County Detention Center inmate who jumped over a second-level rail Monday evening.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said Charles Bowie Richardson, 42, crawled onto the seat of a table, crossed his arms and turned his back to the railing on a second-story pod area inside the jail. Richardson then leaned back and fell to the floor, Chennault said.

Richardson fell more than 12 feet and hit the ground head-first. He was taken to Tahlequah City Hospital before being transferred to Tulsa.

Chennault said Richardson survived the fall, but suffered broken vertebrae, a sternum fracture with bleeding in his chest, and extensive head injuries.

“It was very clearly self-inflicted,” Chennault said. “He did leave a note in his cell, and he was the only inmate in that cell.”

In the note, Richardson blamed “words” for taking his life and his freedom, according to Chennault. The note also referenced Richardson’s birthday, which was Monday.

According to Chennault, Richardson, of Sapulpa, was in the “day area” of the detention center when the fall occurred.

Richardson was recently jailed and held on a $150,000 bond on allegations of lewd molestation. Court documents filed by Tahlequah detectives say two juveniles accused Richardson of sexually assaulting them over the past four years.

Richardson allegedly took nude photos of one victim, a 17-year-old girl who told authorities she feared Richardson would harm her if she didn’t comply with his advances. According to an affidavit, the second alleged victim is 14 years old and is physically handicapped.

During an interview with Tahlequah Detective Jeff Haney, Richardson allegedly admitted he had taken photos of the 17-year-old and stored them on his phone.

Authorities were given permission from a judge to search Richardson’s phone.

Richardson also has previous convictions of second-degree rape, rape by instrumentation, failure to register as a sex offender, and failure to notify law enforcement of a change of address, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Chennault said he viewed surveillance footage from the jail and also spoke to other inmates who witnessed Richardson’s fall Monday evening. He plans to send a report to the District Attorney’s Office for review.