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Officials: Lake County inmate likely committed suicide in cell

Jonathan Velasquez. | Lake County sheriff's office

The death of a Lake County Jail inmate who was found dead in his cell Wednesday is thought to be a suicide.

Jonathan Velazquez was found unresponsive and alone in his cell at 12:54 p.m. with a piece of fabric wrapped around his neck, according to a statement from Lake County sheriff’s office. He was later pronounced dead after attempts to revive him by corrections officers and medical staff were unsuccessful. The fabric was believed to be a strap used to secure an elevated television.

“Following an autopsy by the Lake County coroner’s office, his cause of death was determined to be ligature strangulation due to ratcheted safety strap,” Det. Christopher Covelli, of the Lake County major crime task force, announced Thursday.

Authorities are investigating the fatality as an apparent suicide, Covelli said, adding that the final manner of death is yet to be determined.

Velazquez, 34, of the first block of Sandhurst Road in Mundelein, was taken into the jail’s custody June 15 on a criminal sexual assault charge in his hometown, officials said.

He was additionally charged with solicitation of murder for hire and solicitation for murder June 30, according to the statement.

While jailed pending trial on the sexual assault charge, Velasquez tried to hire someone to kill a person expected to testify against him, according to the Lake County sheriff’s office’s gang task force, which said he arranged to pay more than $1,000 to someone he believed would carry out the hit.

However, the hitman was an informant working with detectives, the sheriff’s office said.

Velazquez was in a cell in the jail’s medical unit when he was found unresponsive, after being moved July 1 due to him being a defendant in a high-profile case, officials said, which is standard procedure in such cases.