A 40-year-old inmate in the Hennepin County jail died from an apparent overdose soon after a fellow prisoner allegedly slipped her an illicit drug, according to court records.
Kristina A. Duren, of St. Paul, died Jan. 21 at Hennepin County Medical Center soon after emergency medical responders moved her from the jail, read a search warrant affidavit filed last week.
The Sheriff’s Office has issued no public statement about Duren’s death, as it has done in recent years with other inmate deaths. A Sheriff’s Office spokesman declined to answer questions about the case or explain how an inmate would be able to possess and share an illegal drug in the jail.
The Sheriff’s Office sought court permission to search the body cavities of Cortney A. Metcalfe, 31, of Plymouth, the affidavit said. Metcalfe has been charged with felony drug possession in connection with Duren’s death.
In the affidavit, a sheriff’s detective described what he considered suspicious interactions between Duren and Metcalfe into the early hours of Jan. 21. For example, inmates told jail staff that Duren’s lips were blue and she appeared to be “high.”
They also reported that they thought Duren and Metcalfe were close. Both were in custody for unrelated drug-related arrests.
Video surveillance showed Duren making several trips to the bathroom and twice “grabbing something” off a shelf near her bed. The two also were seen heading to the bathroom area together shortly before 3 a.m.
One inmate told a sheriff’s detective that Metcalfe was known to conceal drugs in her body, the affidavit read.
Later that morning, nurses at the jail discovered Duren unresponsive, the affidavit read. She was declared dead at HCMC about 6:30 a.m. The medical examiner’s office said this week that it is awaiting findings from an autopsy, which should confirm the cause of death.
One day after Duren died, Metcalfe was brought to HCMC for a body cavity search, according to the drug possession charge against her. “Officers noted that [Metcalfe] was restless as she sat on the bench” at the hospital, the criminal complaint read. “Officers observed a plastic bindle on the ground underneath where [Metcalfe] was seated.”
The item contained a small amount of heroin, and Metcalfe admitted that the drug had been in her vagina, the complaint continued.
Metcalfe was charged with heroin possession, jailed and then released on bail ahead of a Feb. 20 court appearance. Messages have been left with Metcalfe and her attorney seeking a response to the allegations.
Jeff Timlin, Duren’s fiance, said late Wednesday he called the jail and spoke to Duren two days before her death and was unable to reach her after that or know her fate. Timlin said a jailer told him only that she had been released to HCMC.
He found out about Duren’s death when informed Tuesday by the Star Tribune. What he wants now from the Sheriff’s Office are answers. “How could they let this happen? How could they not contact me?”
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482