Accused murderer found dead in jail cell

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Matt Gardner
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A man accused of strangling his aunt to death was found dead in his jail cell last month, officials have confirmed.

Daily Herald

The body of Prince Albert Correctional Centre inmate John Custer was found in his cell at approximately 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Custer, 19, had been arrested three weeks earlier on a second-degree murder charge in relation to the death of 40-year-old Pelican Lake First Nation resident Heather Ballantyne.

Chief coroner for the province Kent Stewart said an investigation had been launched by police, coroner and correctional officials.

“There were no indications of foul play,” Stewart said. “As part of the investigation, the coroner ordered an investigation of the body.”

He noted that under the terms of the Coroner’s Act, an inquest is mandatory for any death that occurs when an individual is in custody.

There were no indications of foul play. Kent Stewart

The organization of the inquest, however, will not begin until officials have collected the results of all investigations.

Stewart said that Custer was in segregation and separated from the other prisoners at the time of his death.

Further details, he added, will be made available as the official investigation unfolds.

“The inquest will provide an opportunity to publically review the circumstances, which will include the cause and the manner of death,” he said.

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