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HomeCrimeInmate Dead after Being Attacked by Fellow Prisoner

Inmate Dead after Being Attacked by Fellow Prisoner

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On Tuesday morning, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis briefed the press on the recent death of an inmate that resulted from an altercation last weekend. On Saturday (June 15), Jory Van Antwerp passed away due to a brain bleed that was believed to be caused by multiple kicks to the head by fellow inmate and suspect William Harrison Gillespie. The local sheriff detailed the timeline of events that led to Antwerp’s demise on Tuesday.

The series of unfortunate events began on January 4 when the victim, Jory Linn Van Antwerp, was booked into the Hernando County detention center. Sheriff Nienhuis noted that Antwerp had been “receiving medical treatments prior to his arrest in January for an illness that was very, very serious,” and was continuing to receive outpatient treatments for his ailment after his arrest. He was then assigned to the medical unit full-time on April 23 due to his condition.

The suspect, William Harrison Gillespie, was later booked to the detention center on June 4 for two counts of felony battery before being involved “in a fight in general housing with a cellmate” on June 9. As a result, authorities moved Gillespie to “disciplinary lockdown.” They believe him to have been the aggressor in this instance as well.

One day later, on June 10, Gillespie “was not able to get along with” his one cellmate in lockdown and became engaged in another altercation. Though he was the aggressor, he was injured to the point of needing temporary hospital care. Upon returning to the jail, he was brought to the medical unit to continue treatment for these injuries and was housed in cell 105 while on “administrative segregation” due to his previous actions. This is where Gillespie and Antwerp crossed paths.

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At 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Gillespie was called out of his cell to interview about his prior altercations to determine if charges would be filed. As he left his cell, the suspect kicked Antwerp multiple times in the head despite the infirmed inmate “not interacting with our suspect at all, being very compliant, not really responding.”

Despite Gillespie stating that Antwerp was antagonizing him, the other inmates agreed that Antwerp had not egged his assailant on at all. “It was totally unprovoked,” said Nienhuis. As a result, the suspect was charged with battery on a person detained in a prison or jail and was later charged with second-degree murder.

When deputies assessed the victim’s condition a few minutes after they contained Gillespie, Antwerp appeared to be fine. As multiple members of the staff convened to check his vitals, Antwerp was “acting perfectly normal” and even refused medical treatment. There were no obvious injuries, and he was acting normally until later that evening.

The sheriff noted that the only signs that were clearly discernable postmortem were marks of a bruise on his cheek that looked almost like the victim had been slapped. This was likely due to most of the force being applied to the top of the skull, which caused bruising that was largely concealed by the hairline.

He began to show symptoms into the night and authorities transported him to a hospital early the next morning. Once there, a CT scan revealed a brain bleed that was unrelated to his prior medical condition. Antwerp would succumb to his injuries at 8:02 that evening, less than 36 hours after sustaining the kicks to his head.

So, what was the reason for the attack? Prison can be additionally dangerous for those individuals who have committed acts towards children. Although Antwerp had been charged with six counts of sexual assault on a minor between the ages of 12 and 18, the sheriff does not believe that was the reason for the attack. The sheriff’s office is “relatively confident” that the suspect did not know Antwerp’s charges. “It was a crime of opportunity […] [Gillespie] just snapped,” stated Nienhuis.

Gillespie has been charged with a total of 11 felonies, five of which resulted in convictions. He also has 13 misdemeanors, with four resulting in convictions. The sheriff notes that classification has a full plate when it comes to attempting to keep certain inmates out of the total 650 separate, but he feels that his staff perform their duties with aplomb. “It is amazing to me that we do not have more interactions that result in fights,” Nienhuis said.

The jail’s medical unit has a relatively small capacity that houses only eight double bunk beds, and the top bunks are unusable due to the medical nature of the cells. The sheriff noted that this is part of the reason why the county has decided to conduct a study and create a master plan to increase the size of the medical unit for inmates who have medical conditions. This would provide inmates in need with more bed space, single cells, and mental health facilities moving forward.

Sheriff Nienhuis shows a picture of the deceased, Jory Van Antwerp, on Tuesday. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Inmate Bunks in Medical Unit [Credit: HCSO]
Inmate Bunks in Medical Unit [Credit: HCSO]

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