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Family members of Wells County Jail inmate say his death could have possibly been prevented

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WELLS COUNTY Ind. (WPTA21) - Sunday, September 20th an inmate at the Wells County Jail was found unresponsive in his isolated cell. The family of Dylan Richardson says he committed suicide and if the jail would have provided him with the right resources, he might still be alive today.  

While the Indiana State Police say he was found four days after he was incarcerated and they did not report it was a suicide.  

His mother Becky Schlichter says her son also left a note addressing his mother, his brother, his two kids and the rest of his family.  

"He said sorry so many times in that letter, and I know he was sorry, and I hate that he was so lonely. But he told me that he was sorry but he just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.  

The family says Richardson was always struggling with addiction and mental health issues. 

"He was a good person, he really was,” She said. “Dylan Richardson was loved by a lot of people and I’m pretty sure he’s sitting right here, helping me get through this.” 

Ian Richardson is Dylan’s brother, and he says they placed him in an isolated cell without therapy or help of any kind.  

“He had already expressed ideations of suicide before even being arrested,” Richardson said. “I don’t blame him, I’ve been at the edge of precipice and I've had to have someone pull me back, but no one was there to pull him back.” 

ABC 21 reached out to the Wells County Sheriff Scott Holliday and in a statement, he said, “It is not appropriate to discuss the information of specific detainees out of respect for patient privacy.”  

Holliday says each inmate goes through a series of mental and physical health screenings before they are detained.  

He told ABC21 over the phone that Richardson was not on any sort of ‘suicidal watch’ following his mental health screening. He says the jail employs a vendor to provide mental health resources for their detainees who need them in their jail. Additionally, he says Richardson was placed in an isolated cell due to their COVID-19 quarantine protocol.  

“I believe the system we are working with today no longer serves people who have made mistakes,” Richardson said.  

Ian Richardson says mental health issues are not given proper care in society as a whole, but most importantly to those who are incarcerated.  

“They should not be thought as someone who needs to institutionalized,” Richardson said. “They need to be rehabilitated, that’s what our prison system was originally set up to do, but they no longer function that way.” 

He says if the jail would have given his brother the right kind of help and attention for his mental health, he may still be alive today.  

This is the second inmate death in the Wells County jail this year. The Wells County Sheriff and the ISP say they were unable to comment further on this case as it is still under investigation. 

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Karli VanCleave

Karli VanCleave is a multimedia journalist at WPTA for the evening newscast. Karli is a Fort Wayne native and Indiana University Bloomington graduate.
Feel free to connect with her on Facebook (@KarliVanCleaveNews) and Twitter (@Karli_VanCleave), or if you have a story idea send her an email at kvancleave@wpta21.com.

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