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Virginia State Police vehicle (photo by John Calhoun/JC Photography)

(Updated at 12:45 a.m.) A 30-year-old Arlington resident died in a house fire while visiting family in Augusta County over Thanksgiving weekend, Virginia State Police say.

Jacqueline Guerrier was found dead in the burning home on Deerfield Valley Road, in a rural area southwest of Harrisonburg. A man also suffered life-threatening injuries in the Sunday morning fire, according to VSP.

Locally, Guerrier lived in the East Falls Church area, records show. They graduated from James Madison University in 2014 and later wrote a master’s thesis on Star Trek fanzines. Guerrier worked for a legal research firm in D.C., according to a biography posted on the company’s website.

More from state police:

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office is investigating a fatal fire in Augusta County. The fire department was alerted to the fire at approximately 8:42 a.m. Sunday (Nov. 28, 2021). When fire crews arrived at the residence in the 300 block of Deerfield Valley Road, they found the house engulfed in flames. 

An adult male was flown to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, where he continues to be treated for life-threatening injuries sustained in the fire.

Fire crews recovered the remains of Jacqueline Guerrier, 30, of Arlington, Va., from inside the residence. [Their] remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy. [Guerrier] was visiting family at the time of the fire. 

At this stage of the investigation, the fire does not appear to be suspicious in nature. The cause and origin remain under investigation. 

Arlington County is negotiating a contract with a new medical care provider for the county jail — its most recent move in the wake of a series of inmate deaths.

The decision, announced yesterday (Monday), comes the same month that a man, who appears to be connected to the current provider, appeared in Arlington County General District Court on charges related to the police investigation into the in-custody death of Darryl Becton last year.

Also this month, a man named Clyde Spencer became the sixth reported in-custody death in six years.

The effort to find a new medical provider will cut short Arlington’s contract with Corizon Correctional Health, which was renewed last year through 2025. Corizon will continue to provide services until the new provider is slated to take over, on Monday, Nov. 15. Because the negotiations are ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, couldn’t reveal the name of the proposed new provider.

The county says it made the decision “after careful consideration” to ensure the medical safety of inmates.

“The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing the highest level of medical services to those in our custody and I take each individuals care very seriously,” Sheriff Beth Arthur said in a statement. “How we care for those remanded to our custody is a priority. We are committed to having a vendor that provides the level of medical service that reflects the high expectations of not only myself, but the Arlington community.”

Corizon was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.

Corizon has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care. In Arlington, it appears that local officials are investigating whether the way Becton was cared for in jail played a role in his death. The state medical examiner’s office ruled his cause of death to be hypertensive cardiovascular disease — caused by sustained high blood pressure — complicated by opiate withdrawal.

Nearly one year after Becton’s death, the Commonwealth’s Attorney issued an arrest warrant for a man who was charged with falsifying a patient record, a misdemeanor.

Although the office couldn’t add further details about the man at the time, a D.C. resident by the same name lists his occupation as a licensed practical nurse and his employer as Corizon Health, according to a LinkedIn profile.

And if the man who was charged is indeed employed by Corizon, his case is the second in which a Corizon correctional nurse has been charged with a crime involving an inmate in Arlington.

Another nurse was charged in 2014 with misdemeanor sexual battery and found guilty in Arlington General District Court. In an appeal to the Circuit Court, the inmate and the nurse reached a deal that allowed the nurse to avoid a jail time, according to Maj. Susie Doyel, the then-spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP, which called for an independent investigation into Becton’s death last year, issued a statement after the news of the new medical provider was released.

“Although the Sheriff’s Office is seeking a new medical contractor, the issue remains that there have been six in-custody deaths in six years, as reported by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office,” President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. said. “The Arlington Branch NAACP’s position remains firm in seeking justice for those who have died while in the custody of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.”

“Ultimately, the Arlington County Sheriff, the Command Staff, and Sheriff’s Office personnel are responsible for the health, care, and safety of the individuals in their custody,” Spain’s statement continued. “The Arlington Branch NAACP will continue to seek justice to find all who are responsible, complicit, and or negligent in the deaths of those in-custody and hold them accountable.”

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One year after an inmate died in the Arlington County jail, a man has been charged in connection with his death.

For the last year, the Arlington County Police Department has been investigating the death of Darryl Becton, 46, while in custody of the county jail on Oct. 1, 2020. One year later to the day, a man named Antoine Smith appeared in Arlington County General District Court on charges related to the investigation, according to a press release from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Smith was charged with the misdemeanor of falsifying a patient record, according to the release. Police obtained a warrant for his arrest on Sept. 24.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney did not return requests for more information about who Smith is, who he works for and what records he falsified.

“The Commonwealth may not discuss the details of an ongoing investigation and Professional Rule of Responsibility 3.6 prohibits public commentary regarding the details of a pending case,” the release said. “A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and a charge is not evidence.”

What we do know is that Arlington County’s jail contracts with correctional healthcare provider Corizon Health to provide medical care to inmates. Last year, the contract was extended to 2025.

A D.C. area man who goes by the name Antoine Smith lists his occupation as a licensed practical nurse and his employer as Corizon Health, according to a LinkedIn profile.

Corizon has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care.

Assuming Smith is indeed employed by Corizon, this is not the first time a correctional nurse from Corizon has been charged with a crime involving an inmate in Arlington.

In 2014, another nurse from Corizon was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and found guilty in Arlington General District Court, in an incident that was not previously reported publicly. He appealed to the Circuit Court and a deal was reached between the inmate and the nurse that allowed him avoid a jail time, according to Maj. Susie Doyel, the then-spokeswoman for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail.

The news of the latest charges marks a step forward in the case, which police told ARLnow in August could soon be concluded.

Last fall, Becton, who is Black, was being held on an alleged probation violation after being convicted in 2019 of a felony, “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.” On Oct. 1, 2020, a sheriff’s deputy and an Arlington Department of Human Services caseworker found Becton unresponsive in his cell. Despite resuscitation efforts, Becton was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.

Within a week, the Arlington branch of the NAACP wrote to the sheriff’s office and the police department requesting an independent investigation. The same month, Sheriff Beth Arthur and then-Acting Chief of Police Andy Penn wrote a joint response.

“The death of Mr. Becton is tragic and we can assure you that a thorough and comprehensive criminal investigation into this matter will be conducted by the ACPD, followed by a comprehensive administrative investigation by ASCO to determine if all applicable policies and procedures were followed surrounding Mr. Becton’s incarceration,” Arthur and Penn wrote.

Between then and August, little information had surfaced in Becton’s case. ARLnow learned from the medical examiner’s office that his cause of death was ruled to be hypertensive cardiovascular disease — caused by sustained high blood pressure — complicated by opiate withdrawal, and the manner of his death was ruled to be natural.

This case has been a top priority for the NAACP, as Becton was the fifth person — and the fourth Black man — to die in the facility between 2015 and 2020, per the Sheriff’s and Police Chief’s letter.

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A man died Tuesday after being found unresponsive in the medical unit of the Arlington County jail, prompting a regional law enforcement investigation and statements from local leaders.

Clyde Spencer, 58, was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center, where he later died. He is the sixth inmate at the jail to die over the past six years.

The last reported inmate death, in October 2020, remains under investigation. A regional body called the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team is now investigating Spencer’s death.

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Sheriff Beth Arthur — whose office runs the jail — all issued expressions of sympathy for Spencer’s family and support for the CIRT investigation in statements released Friday morning.

From a county press release:

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, along with the Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney, issued the following statements today regarding the death investigation at the Arlington County Detention Facility earlier this week.

“Mr. Clyde Spencer passed away Tuesday at the Virginia Hospital Center after he was taken there when he was found unresponsive at the Arlington County Detention Facility. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr. Spencer’s family and friends in this time of loss,” said de Ferranti. “We support the decision to call for an independent investigation from the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), a regional team that investigates deaths or serious injuries involving law enforcement officers in participating jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.”

“We offer our condolences to the Spencer family,” said Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur. “Incidents like these are taken very seriously by my office, and me personally. We will fully cooperate with the investigation.”

“My heart goes out to the families suffering from the loss of their loved ones,” said Commonwealth Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “We are diligently working with the CIRT and the ACPD on these cases and hope the community and the families involved understand that we cannot reveal the content of the investigations, and the Virginia rule of professional conduct 3.6 prohibits me from commenting on a pending case.”

At the completion of a comprehensive, thorough, and impartial investigation, the CIRT will present the facts and evidence to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

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(Update at 5:20 p.m.) A man being held at the Arlington County jail has died after being found unconscious yesterday morning.

Clyde Spencer, 58, was in the jail’s medical unit when he was found unresponsive around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a police department press release. He was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center following resuscitation efforts, but died last night. An exact cause of death was not given.

The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the lockup at 1435 N. Courthouse Road, said yesterday afternoon that the man was “in stable condition.” Today’s police department press release says Spencer’s condition “did not improve, and he was pronounced deceased at 5:58 p.m.”

The in-custody death will now be investigated by the recently-established Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team, according to the police department, which described the case as “an active criminal investigation.”

Spencer was jailed for trespassing, the press release noted.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP said in a statement today that this was the sixth death of an inmate in the past six years.

“This is unacceptable, unconscionable, and distressing,” the NAACP said. The full statement is below.

Over a year ago, on October 1, 2020, Daryl Becton died in the custody of the Arlington County Sheriff. In August of 2021, eleven months later, the ACPD said they were putting the final touches on their investigation and would have it to the Commonwealth Attorney “very soon.” Unfortunately, as of October 6, 2021, we have not received any updates that ACPD has sent their investigation to the Commonwealth Attorney over a year later. So now another Black man has died in the custody of the Sheriff at the Arlington County Detention Facility. While we don’t know the details yet and are getting contradictory information from official and unofficial sources, this is the SIXTH death of an Arlington County inmate in 6 years. 

Delayed answers for Mr. Becton’s family and now another death. This is unacceptable, unconscionable, and distressing to anyone following the deaths of inmates and our criminal justice system in Arlington, Virginia. We need closure to the investigation surrounding Mr. Becton’s untimely death, and ACPD must recuse itself from investigating this new death. Our community deserves an investigation by an impartial party to get to the bottom of death number 6, another person of color, and a fellow human being. 

The last publicly-reported inmate death was that of 46-year-old Darryl Becton in October 2020, the investigation into which remains in progress. Of the four others who died, three were also Black and one was white, according to a joint letter from Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur and Police Chief Andy Penn to the NAACP, shared with ARLnow.

Two of the men were found to have died of “natural causes” and one died of a drug overdose, the letter said. Jitesh Patel, the deceased inmate described as white, was a murder suspect who committed suicide in his cell with a jail-issued razor, the letter said.

The Critical Incident Response Team, established earlier this year “to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within the cooperating jurisdictions,” is investigating the latest inmate death at the request of Chief Penn, according to the ACPD press release.

The full press release is below.

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(Updated 11:40 a.m.) Last October, 46-year-old D.C. resident Darryl Becton died in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse.

The county is still looking into the circumstances around his death, but the Arlington County Police Department tells ARLnow the investigation could soon be concluded.

“Detectives are reviewing last items and anticipate concluding the investigation in the near future,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “While we appreciate the need for closure and transparency, ACPD has a duty to conduct a professional, methodical, and thorough investigation to ensure all relevant facts are gathered, documented, and considered.”

ACPD will then forward the entire investigative file to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for independent review. Meantime, the Sheriff’s Office will investigate whether applicable policies and procedures were being followed in this incident.

Meanwhile, the Arlington branch of the NAACP — which called for an independent investigation of the death of Becton, an African American man — is wondering why the investigation is taking so long.

“The Arlington NAACP’s most crucial question is who is not cooperating with whom because nothing else makes sense,” branch president Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. said. “It’s been ten plus months, and all the family and community get is the hot potato treatment.”

By that, he says, when the NAACP talks to County Board members, they point to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who says to talk with the Arlington County Police Department, who says talk to the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

“With the exception of one letter dated October 26, 2020, the Sheriff has been silent,” he said. “Her silence is the only part of this that makes any sense because Mr. Becton somehow died in a locked cell in the jail she runs. Their collective treatment of the family is highly disrespectful and compounds their grief and the concerns of citizens.”

What we know of the case

Last fall, Becton was being held on an alleged probation violation after being convicted in 2019 of a felony, “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.”

On Oct. 1, 2020, at 4:15 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy and a Department of Human Services caseworker had found Becton unresponsive in his cell. ACPD officers were dispatched at 4:19 p.m. to investigate. Despite resuscitation efforts, Becton was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.

Within a week, the NAACP wrote to the sheriff’s office and the police department requesting an independent investigation. The same month, Sheriff Beth Arthur and then-Acting Chief of Police Andy Penn wrote a joint response.

“The death of Mr. Becton is tragic and we can assure you that a thorough and comprehensive criminal investigation into this matter will be conducted by the ACPD, followed by a comprehensive administrative investigation by ASCO to determine if all applicable policies and procedures were followed surrounding Mr. Becton’s incarceration,” Arthur and Penn wrote.

Amid the investigation, the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, which was completed after a death certificate was issued to Becton’s family. On that document, the autopsy was listed as “pending” and no cause of death was listed.

“Mr. Becton’s loved ones deserve to know what the medical examiner determined was his cause of death, and they still can’t even get that simple answer,” Spain said.

The medical examiner’s office told ARLnow on Wednesday that the cause was hypertensive cardiovascular disease — which is caused by sustained high blood pressure — complicated by opiate withdrawal. The manner of his death was ruled to be natural.

Ten months of waiting

Meanwhile, frustrated with the investigation’s pace, the NAACP reached out to Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti last week to see if she had made any progress on her independent review. In response, she affirmed that her office owe’s Becton’s family and the community “an accurate and transparent account of our work,” but pointed to the process laid out by ACPD and ACSO.

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A man was found dead on a bench outside the H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn this morning.

Police are now investigating the man’s death, but note that there is no known threat to the community.

“At approximately 8:36 a.m., police were dispatched to the 1600 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a check on the welfare of a man lying on a bench,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, officers located an adult male deceased. The police department is conducting a death investigation and there is no apparent threat to the community related to this incident.”

The deceased individual was wearing a hospital gown when he was found unresponsive by first responders, Savage confirmed to ARLnow.

Arlington Public Schools’ H-B Woodlawn high school program moved into The Heights building at 1601 Wilson Blvd in the fall of 2019. The Shriver special education program is also based in the building.

Photo via Google Maps

A man collapsed at the Safeway store in Bluemont this morning and later died.

The man was in his 60s and collapsed near the pharmacy counter, according to initial reports. Medics reportedly performed CPR and rushed the man to nearby Virginia Hospital Center.

Arlington County police were on scene at the Safeway (5101 Wilson Blvd) around lunchtime today, investigating the man’s death. The death investigation is routine procedure after an incident like this and, according to a police spokeswoman, foul play is not currently suspected.

“At approximately 11:02 a.m. police were dispatched to the report of a cardiac arrest inside a business in the 5100 block of Wilson Boulevard,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, an adult male was located suffering from an apparent medical emergency. He was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased.”

“The Arlington County Police Department is conducting a death investigation,” Savage continued. “Based on the preliminary investigation, the death does not appear suspicious.”

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) A 27-year-old Arlington man reported missing by police earlier this week has been found dead.

Police say Oscar Flores “was located deceased in Fairfax County” yesterday.

“The investigation into his death is being handled by the Fairfax County Police Department,” Arlington County police said in a brief statement. No other information was given.

Previously, ACPD said Flores “was last seen on February 13, 2021, at approximately 8:00 p.m. in the area of the Dulles Toll Road and Wolf Trap in Fairfax County.”

A reader tells ARLnow that there was police activity yesterday afternoon near where Flores was last seen.

“Friend of mine was just driving out the Dulles Toll Road at Wolf Trap,” the reader said, prior to the announcement of Flores’ death. “They have about 20 police cars on the side of the road. And two lanes blocked.”

An Arlington police spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

Tysons Reporter, ARLnow’s sister site, reported Thursday afternoon that Flores’ remains were found near Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, “in an area off the roadway near Trap Road.”

Currently, Fairfax County police do not suspect foul play in his death.

Photo courtesy ACPD

The Arlington branch of the NAACP is calling for an independent investigation into an inmate’s death inside the county jail last week.

The incident happened on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 1 at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. Darryl Becton, 46, was found unconscious in his cell and later declared dead on scene by paramedics after resuscitation efforts failed.

Becton, a D.C. resident, was being held on an alleged probation violation following his conviction on a felony “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” charge last year.

The death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department. A separate law enforcement entity — the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office — manages the jail, but the NAACP says a different agency, like Virginia State Police, should conduct the investigation.

“It has been reported that in Arlington there has now been at least three deaths in the past few years at this Detention Facility,” said NAACP branch president Julius Spain, Sr. “It is time to find out the reasons why. Transparency, accountability, and review are extremely critical. The public deserves to know.”

The NAACP sent the following letter to the county’s sheriff, acting police chief and other top officials, as well as members of the media.

Arlington Branch #7047 calls for a full AND independent investigation (to include policy, procedural, and criminal violations) into the death of Mr. Darryl Becton, 46, who died on October 1, 2020, after he was found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility. Releasing the results of the investigation to the public immediately is paramount to promoting transparency and public trust in our community. The results of the autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determining the cause and manner of death should also be released to the public immediately.

Mr. Julius D. Spain, Sr., President of the branch stated, “Any death in the custody of law enforcement officials should require an independent investigation with full public disclosure. It has been reported that in Arlington there has now been at least three deaths in the past few years at this Detention Facility. It is time to find out the reasons why. Transparency, accountability, and review are extremely critical. The public deserves to know.”

Mr. Kent D. Carter, Vice President of the branch who serves as chair of the branch criminal justice committee added, “the Arlington Branch NAACP intends to push county leadership to include a review of ACPD/Sheriff Office collaboration and custody and detention policies as part of the work on the recently established police practices group.” Mr. Carter continued, “this death raises yet another area that we on the committee should be expected to analyze in order for our work to be meaningful.”

The deaths of inmates over the last few years in the local Detention Facility are overly concerning. The public needs to know what policies and procedures have been implemented to prevent inmate deaths.

Furthermore, while we understand Arlington County Police Department will investigate, we feel strongly that incidents of this nature should be investigated by an independent outside agency such as the Virginia State Police.

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An inmate died at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse yesterday.

Paramedics were dispatched to the jail for a report of “CPR in progress” after the inmate was found unconscious in his cell at 4:17 p.m. on Thursday. Despite the resuscitation efforts, he was pronounced dead on scene by medics shortly after 4:45 p.m.

The inmate was identified as 46-year-old Darryl Becton. Court records show Becton, a D.C. resident, was in jail for an alleged probation violation after being arrested  on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Last September he pleaded guilty to felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, after initially being charged with grand theft auto.

The Sheriff’s Office says Becton’s family was notified of his death yesterday evening.

As is standard procedure, detectives from the police department are now conducting a death investigation, while the medical examiner conducts an autopsy to determine cause of death.

“Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

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