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10:42 AM Wed, Dec. 12th

Sister of jailhouse suicide victim says death was avoidable

The sister of a Colorado man who died after trying to kill himself in the Mohave County Jail said jail officials could have prevented the suicide attempt and did not notify family members of previous attempts.

Patti Skiadas, one of three siblings of the late James Mymern, said her claim is based upon hospital records and two Kingman Police Department reports last fall indicating her brother was planning and then had tried to kill himself.

"My brother was an educated man and for me to see him die was the worst sight of my life," said Skiadas, of Lancaster, Pa.

She said she was with her 56-year-old brother when he died Jan.

30 at Kingman Regional Medical Center, four days after he attempted to strangle himself with medical gauze.

Mymern was being held without bond in the shooting of his estranged, 37-year-old wife, Patsy, July 17 in a supermarket parking lot in Kingman.

He had been charged with attempted first-degree murder and faced three felony counts of aggravated assault.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan declined to discuss the Mymern suicide in detail, saying his office is conducting an internal investigation, which he expects will take a few weeks.

Sheahan said he then will refer the matter to the county attorney's office.

Referring to Mymern's mental state, Sheahan said, "He went to counseling and everything."

Mymern and other inmates also are responsible for indicating whom to notify during emergencies, Sheahan said.

"It's up to that person," he said.

Sheahan said that if Skiadas has any questions, "she can direct them to us."

Skiadas said she visited the jail after her brother died, and that neither sheriff's Capt.

Bruce Brown, who is in charge of the jail, nor Sheahan would not talk to her.

She said her attorneys are investigating the matter.

"There are no lawsuits," she said.

"It's just an investigation."

"I guess I am bitter because my brother is gone.

I think my brother's death could have been prevented if they watched him a little bit more."

She said she believes he tried to kill himself because he could not deal with the case against him.

Skiadas wrote in an e-mail to the Miner that she has 280 sheets of records from Kingman Regional Medical Center about her brother's attempted suicides.

She indicated that one attempt did not become part of the KRMC record because staff in the jail infirmary treated his right wrist, which was slashed.

Kitty Rohler, executive secretary to KRMC Chief Executive Officer Brian Turney, said the hospital may not release the records without written authorization because of patient confidentiality.

In a Kingman police report, detective Tony Ruppel stated, "On 9/25/01, I had executed a search warrant on Mymern's (jail) cell, along with Sgt.

(Rusty) Cooper and Det.

(Ramona) Tepfer.

Afterwards, Sgt.

Cooper and myself contacted a male and female corrections officer working C-pod (a section of the jail) and told them of Mymern's plan of jumping off of the second floor balcony of the jail, suggesting that he be placed on a suicide watch.

They agreed and we left, not knowing if this was ever done."

In a separate report dated Oct.

4, Ruppel wrote, "It should be noted that I was told that inmate Mymern had attempted suicide twice by jumping off of the second floor of the MCSO Jail.

He is currently at KRMC being treated for a possible broken ankle and fractured rib.

Nothing further."

In an interview published Friday in the Miner, Brown described Mymern as always being in a "jovial mood." Brown said Mymern showed no signs of being suicidal since October.

Mymern had no history of mental problems until his marriage with Patsy began to unravel, according to his sister.

She said her brother suspected Patsy Mymern was having an affair.

The Mymerns were married eight or nine years and had two daughters.

She said her brother filed for divorce July 11 and that Patsy Mymern contested it.

The Mymerns had been separated for about nine months, and Patsy planned to drive to Colorado on July 18 to meet with James to sign the divorce papers, according to a separate KPD report.

Mymern was a resident of Commerce City, Colo., at the time.

"We did not know about the shooting until after it was done," Skiadas said.

"Jimmy said anger is a powerful weapon, and he just went into a rage," she said.

"He just snapped.

That is normally not him.

He is generally easygoing.

He was not brought up in a family of violence."

Skiadas, 51, said she was close to her brother and that hers is a close family.

She said her brother earned a master's degree in education from the former East Texas State University – now Texas A&M-Commerce – and taught for 12 years in the Richardson Independent School District in suburban Dallas.

A Texas A&M employee declined to verify by phone, on confidentiality grounds, whether Mymern earned a master's degree from that college.

A human resources employee at the Richardson district confirmed that he taught there for a number of years.

Mymern left the school district to move to Pagosa Springs, Colo., and opened a chain of convenience stores called Diamond J, Skiadas said.

A man answering the phone at the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce said he did not recognize Mymern's name and said no such store is located in the town, population 1,900.

Mymern was living in Commerce City when he met Patsy and planned to retire, Skiadas said.

"I don't talk to her," Skiadas said..

"I did not get to know her.

We were on the east coast and they were on the west coast."

The Miner unsuccessfully attempted to contact Patsy Mymern on Wednesday evening at her home in Golden Valley.