Inmate who killed himself had a mother who loved him |

Inmate who killed himself had a mother who loved him

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Four days after her son hanged himself in the Carson City jail, Janet Marrone was at the Save-Mart grocery store in South Carson City buying dish soap. The mother of four was on autopilot, numb with the knowledge that her oldest child, Jonathan Roe, 20, was in a morgue.

At the checkout, Marrone caught the tail end of a conversation between two people.

At least the taxpayers won’t have to pay for him, one woman said to the other.

“My heart just fell. It hit me like a knife,” Marrone recalled.

She knew immediately they were talking about the news of her son’s death.

“I’m sure people are talking about it, if nothing else because it was a suicide in the jail,” she said Tuesday. “But that’s my son. I’m looking at his baby pictures and he’s perfect and beautiful. Just because he made bad choices, he was still someone’s brother and son and grandson and boyfriend and best friend.”

Roe had many hardships in his short life, not least of which was repeated run ins with the law, said his mother.

“He was learning disabled and ADHD. I spent his whole childhood trying to get him help.”

He had battled a methamphetamine addiction for five years and his crimes were to that end.

The meth use, Marrone figures, was Jonathan self-medicating.

In custody since July for violating his probation on a meth possession charge, he’d recently gotten a sentence of time served, and was scheduled for another court hearing Nov. 6.

He was working on clearing up charges in Douglas County, too, Marrone said. Jonathan told people his troubles were coming to an end.

But on Saturday, an hour after being left in a segregation cell for an argument with another inmate, the 20-year-old tied one end of a sheet to the top bunk and the other around his neck and he just sat down.

The ramblings he left written on the back of his court papers and in soap on the wall when the paper ran out, sounded like a bluff.

“Maybe now you’ll believe me,” Marrone said the note read.

And on Tuesday, in a meeting with Sheriff Kenny Furlong, she was given a different letter that Jonathan had written to her on Oct. 25.

In it he talked about coming home and spoke directly to his mother, each of his twin sisters and teenage brother. He apologized for the trouble he’d caused and promised to be better when he got out.

Marrone said he sounded unhappy.

She doesn’t know what she would have thought he sounded like if she’d gotten the letter from her son when he was alive.

The what-ifs are killing her. Her life seems unrecognizable.

For 20 years she’s been Jonathan’s mother. For more than half of her life, he was her anchor.

Now, she feels like strangers revel in her loss, not caring that she loved her son and that his death seems like the end.

“I’m just empty, and to be honest with you, if I didn’t have these other three kids here,” she said, her voice trailing off. “Part of my heart’s gone. He was my first.”

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.

A memorial service for Jonathan Roe will be from 1-3 p.m. Nov. 10 For information on the location, e-mail his mother, Janet Marrone, at