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DA: Loudon County inmate appears to have taken his own life

Joseph Aaron Marby, 36, was being held for criminal impersonation and theft of property, officials said.
Credit: Loudon County Sheriff's Office

LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. — UPDATE TUESDAY: The inmate found dead this month in the Loudon County jail appears to have died by suicide, according to District Attorney General Russell Johnson.

Joseph Marby of Knoxville was found unconscious Nov. 17 by other inmates. It appeared that he'd blocked his own airways with toilet paper, according to the prosecutor.

Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Johnson then asked the TBI to investigate.

Marbry had been charged with theft and criminal impersonation.

Evidence indicated he'd been trying to get drugs smuggled in.

"It is not clear at this point in the investigation whether this was successful or not. Based on the inmate statements, and confirmed by a review of the video, Marbry went to the area of the toilets where he pulled a screen or opaque curtain across the area to shield him from view of the camera," the DA said in a statement Tuesday.

"On video he is not seen leaving and no one else is seen entering the area until after approximately 15 minutes. At this point other inmates evidently notice his hands near or on the ground as if he is slumped down and they go to his aid as described hereinabove." 

The Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville conducted an autopsy. Doctors still are awaiting toxicology results to see if he had drugs in his system. The investigation continues.

Johnson wrote he was aware of speculation and "conspiracy theories" about how Marbry died.

"While I found the circumstances of this event to be novel, I understand from talking with Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton that they had an inmate several months ago try to take his own life in the same manner. Fortunately, a corrections officer was able to intervene in time and save that inmate’s life," Johnson wrote.

He concluded: "Please respect the family of (Marbry)."

PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney General Russell Johnson said that they are looking into the death of an inmate at the Loudon County Detention Facility.

Johnson said that he requested TBI to investigate the "in-custody death" of Joseph Aaron Marrby, 36, an inmate. His last known address was Chariot Drive in Knoxville, officials said. He was being held for criminal impersonation and theft of property, officials said. 

He was also on hold at the Knox County Sheriff's Office for numerous outstanding warrants.

The death occurred Tuesday evening, according to a release from officials. He said that it is standard procedure for TBI to investigate matters like this.

Johnson also said that an autopsy was ordered, which was performed Thursday at the Knox County Regional Forensics Center. They said that once the autopsy confirmed the manner of death, they would release more information.

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