‘Homicide’ coverup? Inmate hung from 9′ jail ceiling an hour after being threatened by deputies

Zachary Goldson's mugshot. (Source: WCPO 9 Cincinnati)
Zachary Goldson's mugshot. (Source: WCPO 9 Cincinnati)
Zachary Goldson’s mugshot. (Source: WCPO 9 Cincinnati)

GEORGETOWN, OH — An hour after a failed escape attempt, an inmate was found hanging from a bed sheet while alone in his cell.  After examining the death, the coroner has ruled that it was “physically impossible” for the inmate to reach the 9′ ceiling and hang himself without assistance, ruling the death a homicide.  A dark cloud looms over Brown County, given that the inmate was under the supervision of the same deputies who had threatened to kill him on video earlier that morning.

Zachary Goldson, 24, was awaiting trial at the Brown County Adult Detention Center for charges related to irresponsibility with a firearm.  He was arrested on September 26th for allegedly firing across a roadway with a shortened .22 caliber rifle that he was not allowed to possess.  For this crime he was facing a potential 5 years in prison if convicted.

A Botched Escape

Police apprehending Zachary Goldson. (Source: WCPO 9 Cincinnati)
Police apprehending Zachary Goldson. (Source: WCPO 9 Cincinnati)

Nine days after his arrest, Goldson would execute a plan to attempt to escape.   The night before his death, at 11:18 p.m., he began swallowing object he had access to, including a pen, a toothbrush, and some staples.  He began vomiting and jailers scheduled him to have an endoscopy to have the objects removed from his stomach.

Goldson was discharged from jail and transported to the hospital by Deputy Travis Justice.  When the deputy unlocked the vehicle in the hospital parking lot, Goldson made his move.  Goldson bashed the deputy with his shackles and attempted to grab his gun.  Several hospital workers witnessed the scuffle and assisted the deputy in holding Goldson down.

Backup soon arrived, and a police dash-cam recorded the handling of the suspect as he was face down on the ground.  Police, angry from the escape attempt, let their emotions show.

“I’d like to break your f***ing neck right now.”

One officer can be seen kneeling on Goldson’s head. Goldson can be heard gasping and gulping for air.

“Shut up dude,” shouts one deputy.

“What’s your name, trash?” another asks.

“Since we’ve got an injured deputy, that’s another felony,” an officer later tells Goldson.

“Yeah. Hope you like prison b***h,” another mocks.

“I’d like to break your f***ing neck right now,” threatens an officer.

“Homicide” by hanging

The knot was tied on a sprinkler elevated 9 feet off the ground.  (Source: WCPO 9 Cincinnati)
The impossible 9′ knot.  (Source: WCPO)

Goldson was transported back to jail by Corrections Officer Zane Schadle, Deputy Ryan Wedmore, Deputy Jason Huff and Deputy George Dunning, according to the I-Team at WCPO.

According to reports, Goldson was put into cell No. 15 at 2:35 a.m. on October 5th, after first being put into paper clothing and having his belongings removed from his cell.  According to documents, his blanket was removed, but the 3 personnel “did not notice” that they left his bed sheet on the bed.

Only 25 minutes later, Goldson was found hanging from that bed sheet from a sprinkler.  The coroner conducted an investigation.

A knot was tied around the sprinkler attached to the ceiling, which was elevated 9′ from the ground.  Goldson stood 6′-1″ tall.  WCPO reported:

According to the documents obtained by the I-Team, both Goldson’s toilet and bed were 12 feet from the center of his cell. If Goldson were standing on either of these objects, his reach would have to be a little more than 8 and a half feet in order to touch the sprinkler — that would require a 7.1 degree leaning tilt while pivoting at the ankle.

“That is the maximum point where the center of gravity of a 6-foot-1 person would approximately be…before falling down without something to hold on to in order to prevent falling down,” a note from the coroner stated.

Brown County Coroner Judith Varnau ruled his death a “homicide, due to strangulation” saying he died “within minutes” from a “ligature around his neck.”

According to Varnau, there’s, “No way Goldson could have tied the knot that killed him,” she told WKRC Local-12 News.

“It would be physically impossible for [Goldson] to reach the sprinkler,” the coroner concluded.

Chief Deputy J.K. Schadle said the coroner’s report was based on “someone’s political agenda.”

“No way Goldson could have tied the knot that killed him…It would be physically impossible for [him] to reach the sprinkler.”

The Chief Deputy has a lot riding on the case, given that his son — Corrections Officer Zach Schadle — is incidentally the one who “found” Goldson’s body.

“At first I thought it was a suicide until all the information started coming in,” said Goldson’s mother, Christina Dennis. “There was so much evidence, it became clear that something was wrong.”

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is looking into the case.  If indeed the death was caused by homicide, that would almost certainly imply that several individuals had to be involved in orchestrating the death, covering up the crime, and concealing the truth with false statements.  Indeed, this could be shake the entire department to its core.

Perhaps this is the shake up that is needed if the department is involved in some sort of conspiracy.


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