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Raleigh woman found dead in Wake County jail cell

By Thomasi McDonald
tmcdonald@newsobserver.com

RALEIGH A preliminary autopsy indicates that a Raleigh woman who died Sunday night while in custody at the Wake County jail had a blood clot that broke loose in her leg and traveled to her lungs.

Ronald Joseph Winfield received a phone call from the state medical examiner on Monday, explaining why his wife, Catena Danyelle Sanders, died at the age of 39.

Sanders, of 7529 Stuart Drive, was booked into the jail after an altercation with Winfield on Dec. 27 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, Capt. James Stevens, a sheriff’s spokesman, reported.

Winfield said his wife struggled with the neurological disorders dystonia, which affected her movement, and fibromyalgia, which causes widespread pain, fatigue, joint stiffness and difficulty swallowing.

Winfield and Sanders’ father said Monday that her symptoms included muscle spasms that made it difficult for Sanders to walk and also impaired her jaw muscles, which sometimes left her unable to speak.

But “she didn’t have anything life-threatening,” Winfield said.

Stevens said Monday that Sanders’ medical condition did not require enhanced monitoring.

Typically, detention officers check inmates twice each hour.

State law requires that inmates who have attempted suicide in the past or who display violent behavior, and those under the influence of drugs, are to be monitored four times each hour by detention officers.

State law also requires detention centers to perform a health screening of inmates when they are admitted and to have a plan for the care of inmates with chronic illnesses.

Stevens said jail officials did perform a medical evaluation of Sanders when she was booked into the facility.

“Ms. Sanders was under the standard twice per hour observation protocol as was appropriate in her case,” the sheriff’s spokesman said.

Police accused Sanders of stabbing Winfield at the couple’s home, according to Jim Sughrue, a Raleigh police spokesman.

Sanders did not have a criminal history in North Carolina prior to her arrest, state records show.

“We were trying to get her psychiatric help,” Winfield said. “What she did was totally out of character.”

Sanders was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail, a jail spokeswoman said Monday.

It was just before 6:30 p.m. Sunday when a Wake detention officer found her unresponsive in her cell, Stevens reported.

Jail employees called 911 and began efforts to revive her, Stevens said.

Emergency workers who arrived at the facility pronounced Sanders dead.

Her body was transported to the state medical examiner’s office for autopsy, Stevens reported.

Sanders was the mother of two children, an 18-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.

McDonald: 919-829-4533
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