CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – A murder suspect discovered dead in his prison cell Tuesday is believed to have used his face mask to kill himself, despite being considered an inmate at risk of committing suicide.
A correctional officer working at the time of Timothy McQuesten’s death has been placed on paid administrative leave, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
McQuesten, 49, of Lincoln, was placed on “crisis management” status and assigned to a monitoring cell inside the Intake Services Center at the Adult Correctional Institutions after he was charged with last week’s murders of Kimberly and Mark Dupre.
McQuesten’s clothes were removed – in accordance with crisis management protocol – so he couldn’t use them to hurt himself. But the prisoner was given a face mask because of the pandemic, and video surveillance reviewed by investigators shows McQuesten choking himself by stuffing the mask into his mouth and cutting off his ability to breathe, according to sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Investigators from the ACI and the R.I. State Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding McQuesten’s death.
The motive of McQuesten’s suspected murders last week remains unclear.
At his arraignment on Friday, McQuesten told the judge he had not been given his antipsychotic medication, Klonopin (which is described as a drug to treat anxiety), since his arrest.
“I don’t know where it went or how it got lost,” McQuesten told the judge. “All of my other medications were transported that’s the only one I’ve been without.”
“I feel as though that’s going to get lost in the shuffle,” he added.
McQuesten was held without bail, and Judge Elaine Bucci ordered a competency evaluation based on his comments.
Investigators are looking into how frequently ACI staff checked on McQuesten given his status.
J.R. Ventura, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Corrections, confirmed the officer was placed on paid leave, but in an email declined to answer questions as to whether McQuesten was given access to his medication and how often he was checked on.
Ventura said in a statement Tuesdsay that correctional officers found McQuesten unresponsive Monday evening inside his cell. Staff performed life-saving measures before a rescue arrived to take McQuesten to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, Ventura said.
Richard Ferruccio, president of the R.I. Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, declined to comment on the officer who was placed on leave.
“If there were mistakes made, I’m sure the [Department of Corrections] will address it,” Ferruccio said. “We’ll see where it takes us.”