Inmate dies at Belmont County Jail, investigation underway

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Elzie Leasure of Bellaire, an inmate at the Belmont County Jail, died Tuesday. An investigation is underway, but officials say it appears to be natural causes.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — An investigation is underway after an inmate was reported dead at the Belmont County Jail on Tuesday.

Chief Deputy James Zusack of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that 46-year-old Elzie Leasure of Bellaire died earlier this week.

“He was found (Tuesday) morning around 8:30 a.m. It appeared to be natural causes. We called the coroner to come out,” Zusack said. “The autopsy was done (Wednesday) morning, and the matter is still under investigation at this point.”

Zusack said he could not at this point elaborate on the circumstances of the discovery or of any events of the prior day. Zusack said Leasure was being held for a bond revocation hearing and possession of drug abuse instruments. Zusack said Leasure had been a past inmate of the jail.

“He’s been in our jail a couple of times. He has a previous record with us,” Zusack said.

He added that he could not recall a past incident in which an inmate had died in the jail. He said he could not speculate about when the coroner’s investigation might be completed.

“It was just done (Wednesday) morning,” he said. “We’re waiting on (the results of the investigation).”

Zusack added that the jail follows a procedure of evaluating inmates for health concerns.

The jail has made news in prior months due to reports of overcrowding beyond its capacity and the resulting need to house inmates outside of the county at a cost.

“They’re busy over there. That’s just the way it is,” Zusack said.

Belmont County Commissioner Josh Meyer said the board had no comment at this time.

“The sheriff contacted us that there was a death at the jail. They’re handling it. There’s an investigation taking place, and that’s where it stands right now,” he said.