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Prisoner dies after hanging himself at SCI

Aron McNatt recently charged with conspiracy to smuggle drugs into prison
August 12, 2019

A Lewes man recently charged with conspiracy to smuggle drugs into Sussex Correctional Institution has died after officials say he hung himself in his prison cell.

Aron W. McNatt, 36, was found at 11:46 p.m. Aug. 9 hanging from a bedsheet in his prison cell, said Paul G. Shavack, deputy bureau chief of prisons.

McNatt was freed by correctional officers and life-saving measures including CPR were immediately initiated, Shavack said.

McNatt was taken to Bayhealth Sussex Campus and later transferred to Christiana Hospital in critical condition; he was pronounced dead Aug. 11, Shavack said. McNatt’s body was turned over to the Division of Forensic Science to conduct an autopsy to determine cause of death.

Preliminary investigation by Delaware State Police Criminal Investigative Unit and Delaware Department of Correction has determined that this incident is being investigated as an apparent suicide. It continues to be an ongoing investigation, Shavack said. “There were no suspicious circumstances and no foul play suspected at this time,” he said.

McNatt had been held at SCI since May 8, serving a two-year sentence for third-offense driving under the influence of alcohol. On July 30, he was charged in connection with a contraband smuggling incident at SCI.

Court records state that McNatt solicited Teresa C. Cook, 38, of Lewes to smuggle Suboxone into SCI during a scheduled visit. Cook was recorded saying she would bring the drug on her next visit; at her next prison visit, she was searched and investigators gave her the opportunity to turn over the contraband. She removed her wedding band and produced one Suboxone strip she had concealed beneath her ring, records state.

Cook was taken into custody and charged with the following felonies: intent to deliver a controlled substance, promoting prison contraband and second-degree conspiracy. Cook was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 2 and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in default of $3,500 secured bond.

McNatt was charged with second-degree criminal solicitation, promoting prison contraband and second-degree conspiracy. McNatt was arraigned and given $3,000 unsecured bond for the smuggling charges, but remained in SCI on the earlier DUI charge.