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Officials defend jail staff after man's apparent suicide

May 2, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Officials have come to the defense of the Santa Fe County jail in the wake of an apparent suicide of a jailed man accused of torturing and killing a child. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a county spokeswoman says staff at the facility addresses mental health issues and suicide prevention as it oversees the approximately 8,000 inmates who pass through the facility each year. But officials conceded the staff's efforts do not guarantee inmates will not try to harm themselves. Thomas Wayne Ferguson was found dead Friday night in his cell after apparently hanging himself with a sheet. Ferguson was awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge in the brutal torture and beating death of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia. Ferguson had pleaded not guilty to 17 felony counts and one misdemeanor charge in the case.