A Lake County Jail inmate who was found unresponsive in his cell last year died of a massive abdominal infection while in custody, according to an autopsy report released to the News-Sun.
David Butterfield, 36, of Waukegan, had a significant medical history of substance abuse and childhood absence epilepsy, according to the report from the Lake County Coroner’s Office. The autopsy, performed in March of last year, found bleeding inside Butterfield’s intestines in addition to the massive infection in his abdominal cavity. The autopsy found no evidence of significant injuries that caused or contributed to his death.
The official cause of death was peritonitis, the inflammation of a membrane lining the abdominal wall that is usually the result of a fungal or bacterial infection. The condition requires prompt medical treatment usually involving antibiotics or surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. Risk factors for the condition include cirrhosis, stomach ulcers and pancreatitis.
Toxicological tests showed naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of heroin and opioid overdoses, and promethazine, a sedative commonly used to prevent nausea and vomiting, in Butterfield’s system.
Butterfield died March 4, 2016, at 8:36 a.m., according to the report. Additional records released by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office show he had been on suicide watch, meaning jail officers are supposed to observe the inmate every 15 minutes. The last entry on the suicide watch form is for 7:20 a.m., when Butterfield was observed lying naked on the floor of his cell.
A jail official found Butterfield unresponsive in his cell at about 7:38 a.m., records show. Medical staff performed CPR, and Butterfield was taken to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, where he was pronounced dead.
According to protocol in such matters, the Lake County Major Crime Task Force investigated Butterfield’s death last year, records show. No recommendations were made following the investigation, and the task force found no instances of criminal wrongdoing, said Sgt. Chris Covelli, public information officer at the sheriff’s office.
Butterfield was brought into custody on Feb. 29, 2016, after being arrested on a warrant for failing to appear in court on charges of possession of a controlled substance. While in custody, Butterfield told jail officials he was feeling sick from drug withdrawal. He was placed under the care of the jail’s medical unit, according to a statement officials released at the time.
Before Butterfield was taken to the hospital, instructions from an automated external defibrillator advised rescue officials not to shock him, according to written statements from jail officials.
Butterfield had asked for a nurse at 5:45 a.m. March 4, less than three hours before he died. Suicide watch records show he was with a nurse at that time.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office declined to release Butterfield’s medical records, citing privacy laws.
Attempts to reach Butterfield’s family were unsuccessful. Jail records show he was unemployed, and his highest level of education was ninth grade. He had previous arrests in Lake County for criminal trespass, driving on a suspended license, operating an uninsured vehicle and criminal damage to government property, records show.
Butterfield was among six Lake County Jail inmates who died in custody in recent years. Last year, Jonathan Velazquez was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide, authorities said. Igor Karlukov, of Palatine, was found hanging inside his cell in 2014, and Thomas Arvie, of Waukegan, died in 2011 after suffering a stroke in his cell.
Jail officials were scrutinized after the 2012 deaths of inmates Lyvita Gomes and Eugene Gruber. Gomes, of Vernon Hills, died at a hospital in 2012 from malnutrition and dehydration after a 15-day hunger strike at the jail. Gruber, of Grayslake, died at a Chicago rehabilitation center months after he suffered paralyzing neck injuries while struggling with officers in the jail.
County officials changed the jail’s medical care provider after their deaths.