Hit-and-run homicide suspect commits suicide before trial

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 1:21 p.m. CDT; updated 11:21 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 8, 2010

COLUMBIA — A Cooper County woman hanged herself in a cell at the Cooper County Detention Center in Boonville early Tuesday morning, according to a Cooper County Sheriff's Office news release.

Karen M. Redfern, 46, had been imprisoned since August 2009 after being charged with the homicide of a state highway worker.

According to the release, Redfern was alive when a detention center officer made a routine check at midnight. At approximately 12:17 a.m., an officer found her unconscious and hanging from the bed by clothing. Detention center officers and paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive her, and she was pronounced dead by the county coroner. Her trial was scheduled for Nov. 29 in Sedalia.

Redfern was indicted by a Cooper County grand jury on charges including:

  • Involuntary manslaughter in the first degree
  • Property damage in the first degree
  • Attempt to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident
  • Two counts of careless and imprudent driving
  • Aggravated endangerment of a highway worker

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

A study commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Corrections puts the suicide rate in county jails at 38 deaths per 100,000 inmates, approximately 3 times greater than that of the general population of the United States, and 93 percent of jail suicide victims were hangings.

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