Investigation continues into February county jail deaths


An investigation into two February deaths in the Delaware County Jail is still ongoing, officials said Tuesday.

Officials from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that the next piece of the investigation into the Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 deaths of Rhianna Michelle Filichia, 38, and Tye Downard, 43, would come after results from both autopsies are made available in more than a month.

Filichia passed away after being rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital on the evening of Feb. 21. The Franklin County Coroner’s Office reported that her death was most likely caused by peritonitis, a fatal condition from an abdominal cavity infection. Filichia’s mother, Teresa Berry, spoke to the The Gazette the day after Filichia’s death and said Filichia had been having issues as the result of a December surgery for diverticulitis.

Filichia was serving 16 days in the county jail on work release, meaning she would report to the jail on Friday and be released on Sunday so she could keep her job. Officials from the sheriff’s office said Filichia was arrested when she failed to report on Feb. 19. Berry said Filichia was in the hospital at the time.

Hours after Filichia’s death, at 1:30 a.m. Feb. 22, Downard, a former Reynoldsburg police detective and Westerville resident, was found dead in his jail cell during hourly inmate checks. Sheriff Russell Martin said Downard hanged himself with his bed sheet.

Downard was arrested by U.S. marshals on Feb. 18. after authorities say he made more than 20 narcotic deliveries between October 2015 and February, according to the Associated Press. Downard was being held at the Delaware County Jail for the federal court.

An investigation into both deaths was launched in accordance with sheriff’s office policies.

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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