Mentally Ill Homless Man “Basically Baked to Death” in NYC Jail

A mentally ill homeless man "basically baked to death" in a New York City jail cell last month, according to a report in the Associated Press.

Four city officials told the AP that Jerome Murdough, a 56-year-old homeless man charged with trespassing, didn't open a vent in his cell at Rikers Island's observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses. Mudough was prescribed anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medications.

Hours reportedly passed before any officials checked in on Mudough, violating the city's protocol.

UPDATE 1:53 pm: The Associated Press has updated their article. Murdough was arrested as he slept in the stairwell of public housing project in Harlem. He'd been in jail for a week when he died. From the AP:

Department of Correction spokesman Robin Campbell said in a statement that an internal investigation will look into all circumstances of Murdough's death, "including issues of staff performance and the adequacy of procedures."

Campbell acknowledged that the temperature in Murdough's cell was "unusually high" and that action has been taken to fix mechanical problems to ensure safe temperatures, "particularly in areas housing vulnerable inmates."

Murdough's 75-year-old mother, Alma Murdough, said she did not learn of her son's death until the AP contacted her last week, nearly a month after he died. His public defender was told of the death three days after the inmate was found, the DOC said.

"He was a very lovely, caring guy," said Murdough, adding that her son had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and that she had not seen him in about three years.

Because he was in the mental health ward, Murdough was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes; by the time, his body was found, at 2:30 am on Friday 15, he'd been alone for more than four hours.

[Image via AP]