An autopsy confirmed the death of a Churchill County Jail inmate as a suicide.
Sheriff Ben Trotter said Billey Stanberry’s death was ruled suicide by hanging after deputies discovered the Fallon resident’s body at about 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Stanberry was found hanging from the cell bars as his cellmate slept.
Trotter said the investigation is still open, although the CCSO is waiting for a toxicology report.
Stanberry, 48, was also a person of interest by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in the murder of Ryan Petty, 47, of Spanish Springs.
Trotter said Stanberry’s cellmate was questioned about the death, but the investigation quickly ruled him out as a possible suspect. Trotter said the cellmate was asleep while Stanberry hung himself and when deputies took down the body.
Stanberry was facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon, burglary with possession of a firearm attempt to commit a robbery with a deadly weapon and an ex-felon not to possess a firearm stemming from an incident in February.
Trotter, meanwhile, took aim at the decrepit jail and said the out-of-date facility does not allow deputies to properly supervise inmates who may have suicidal thoughts.
Stanberry was under a 72-hour surveillance period to determine his risk factors, Trotter said.
The sheriff said the jail has one padded cell, which is typically reserved for intoxicated inmates who are thrashing around and present harm to other inmates.
Trotter cited the case of John Silvey, who was arrested last year and is suspected in the murder of his neighbor. Silvey has been housed in the attorney room and deputies must chauffeur Silvey to the restroom and shower every day.
In addition, Silvey has had suicidal thoughts and attempted to starve himself, according to court records. Trotter said Silvey has “bashed” himself on equipment in the cells and attorney room, but is calm when housed in the padded cell.
Trotter said a new facility is a priority for the CCSO, but funding form the county has stalled due to the state of the economy.
The murder investigation led authorities to Stanberry, who was in Gardnerville, as a person of interest. According to a press release from WCSO, the two cases are unrelated.
Douglas County detectives, meanwhile, located Petty’s mini-van at a supermarket on 1341 U.S. Highway in Gardnerville. It was impounded by the WCSO for processing.
Detectives believe the van was abandoned at the supermarket on Monday between 7-11 a.m.; although it may have been missing since Sunday.
The individual who abandoned the van may have left the parking lot of the supermarket on a gas-powered scooter.
According to WCSO Deputy Armando Avina, the murder investigation is still ongoing. A report from KRNV-TV said Stanberry and Perry were roommates, but Avina said he could not confirm the report.
Avina said it may be possible Stanberry temporarily resided at Perry’s home, although they may not have roommates.
Anyone who saw the van or its occupant(s), or a man on a scooter around that time, is urged to contact WCSO detectives.
Detectives are also interested in any suspicious activity that may have occurred at 160 Mia Drive.
The WCSO Detectives Division encourages anyone with information on this case to contact them at 775-328-3320 or remain anonymous by calling Secret Witness at 775-322-4900, www.secretwitness.com, or text the tip to 847411 (tip 411) keyword — SW.
According to court records, Stanberry was booked for four felonies in Churchill County including assault with a deadly weapon, burglary with possession of a firearm attempt to commit a robbery with a deadly weapon and an ex-felon not to possess a firearm. He was also charged with aim a firearm at a human being, a gross misdemeanor.
The ex-felon charge stemmed from a previous conviction out of the California Superior Court in Sacramento.
Stanberry was accused of entering Charles Robert’s home on South Nevada Street and pointing a Ruger at Robert’s forehead and temple and demanding payment for Dorothy Lyster.
Stanberry was being held on a cash-only bond of $88,500.