Inmate death investigation still not complete

Becky Vargo • Apr 10, 2018 at 9:22 PM

WEST OLIVE — The investigation into the death of an Ottawa County Jail inmate a month ago is still not complete, said Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker on Tuesday.

William VanEyck, 33, was found unresponsive in the housing unit of the jail on March 3. He was taken to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, where he died on March 12.

Kempker said the man’s wounds were self-inflicted.

“My office and Ottawa County have not completed all of their investigations and reviews into this tragic incident,” Kempker said. “However, I can advise that the incident was a suicide by a person headed for the prison system.”

The sheriff said while he cannot reveal the details of this inmate's treatment, troubled inmates such as this one receive extensive mental health services within the jail and stays at mental health facilities outside of the jail complex.

“The best judgment of the mental health professionals regarding this inmate was that he was not actively suicidal at the time of the incident,” Kempker said. “Our staff is dedicated to improving at all times, but the reality we face is that even the best behavioral science is inexact."

VanEyck had been lodged in the Ottawa County Jail since July 15, 2017, and was awaiting sentencing, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with one count of malicious destruction of property in 2015, and police said he was involved in 70 cases of anti-police graffiti in the Holland area.

The last time an inmate died in the Ottawa County Jail was in August 2013, Kempker said.

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