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2nd jailer, not fired one, linked to inmate death

Staff writer

A female jailer fired days after the suicide of inmate Julie Starks appeared to have no connection to the incident, but another female jailer may have had a complicated history with Starks.

Tammy Whiteside was on duty when Starks committed suicide. She was the jailer who postponed Starks’s booking by nearly a day and a half, according to inmate Chris Wilson.

Whiteside and Starks did not like one another, Wilson said.

Asked to comment, Sheriff Rob Craft said Tuesday that he did not know whether Starks and Whiteside liked one another but that he thought it would not have affected how Whiteside treated Starks.

“That I don’t know, but I can assure you they were talking and having pleasant conversations that day,” he said.

Jailer Christina Weiser was fired Dec. 9. She reportedly had been harassing inmates.

Craft wouldn’t discuss why she was fired because it was a personnel issue.

Craft has seen no further evidence of jailers harassing inmates, and the jail is not investigating the matter at this time.

“No, and I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “No one has said anything to us about it.”

Inmates and inmates relatives have suggested to the newspaper, however, that inmates have felt harassed by some jailers.

Reports indicate Starks was booked in at 8:12 a.m. Dec. 4, the same day she was arrested on suspicion of battery of a police officer and criminal deprivation of property.

Although she officially was logged in at that time, Craft said the booking process was not been completed because Starks became uncooperative.

“Somewhere along the line, she became too uncooperative to continue,” he said.

The booking process normally would include taking any items that Starks, who had been institutionalized for mental health issues, could use to harm herself or others.

She was left for nearly a day and a half with shoelaces she used to strangle herself.

Craft maintained that Starks was left alone for 15 to 20 minutes the evening of the day after her official booking, not an hour or more, which some sources have reported.

“I can tell you it was roughly 20 minutes from the time we left her until we found her,” he said.

Craft said she no longer was on suicide watch because she had been released from the hospital.

“The doctors say they are cured for it, and I take their word for it,” he said. “They’re doctors; they know better than I do.”

Wilson, who said he was among Starks’s friends, tells a different story.

In phone and text messages from the jail, he said a female jailer had taunted Starks, repeatedly indicating that she would complete the booking process, then not doing so.

“Tammy just didn’t want to book her in just to be a bitch to Julie,” he said. “She kept telling Julie ‘after this meal I will book you and after dinner,’ and kept putting her off.”

Wilson contends he was the one who performed chest compressions on Starks after her suicide attempt.

Whiteside, the jailer on duty, only placed defibrillator patches on Starks, while Marion assistant police chief Stave Janzen stood by and watched, Wilson said.

An inmate did assist jail staff with attempts to resuscitate Starks, Craft said.

He expressed sadness over the incident for everyone involved and expressed a willingness to answer any questions that Starks’s mother, Kathy Parrish, might have if she wants to talk directly.

“If she would like to come in and discuss it, I’m more than happy to,” he said.

Last modified Dec. 23, 2020

 

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