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Family says courthouse shooting inmate requested medicine

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A man who died in custody after displaying flu-like symptoms had been denied an extra blanket and cough medicine by the staff of the St. Louis County Jail in northern Minnesota where he was detained, according to the man's father, sister and a friend.

Daniel Schlienz, 42, was charged with shooting two people at the Cook County Courthouse on Dec. 15 shortly after being convicted on several counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Schlienz's father and sister told the Duluth News Tribune ( ) that he appeared sick when they visited him Saturday afternoon. A childhood friend visited Schlienz on Sunday and had the same impression.

"He didn't look good," said Gary Schlienz, Daniel's father. "He looked pretty haggard."

According to St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman, Schlienz exhibited flu-like symptoms on Monday and died Tuesday in a local hospital.

Litman did not immediately return a call Thursday morning.

Bev Wolke, his sister, said she asked jail staff to give her brother another blanket and a cough suppressant, but was told he had to fill out the request himself.

"He was extremely cold at night and he's got this really bad cough," she said.

Jay Wilson said he visited Schlienz on Sunday afternoon. He said his friend's cough was so bad it prevented him from talking at times. Schlienz claimed it started when he was sprayed with a chemical irritant during his arrest after the courthouse shooting, Wilson said.

"He definitely had some serious issues going on," Wilson said. "I was very concerned for him."

Litman's said Schlienz was first seen by a registered nurse from the St. Louis County Jail Health Services correctional staff at about 11:15 a.m. Monday, three hours after he requested it. He was treated for flu-like symptoms, including fever, nausea, vomiting and body aches.

Schlienz was taken by ambulance to Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center about 7:45 p.m. Monday, after his condition deteriorated. Litman said Schlienz was coherent and conscious when he was taken to St. Mary's.

Inmates are observed every half hour, Litman said, and on the night of Dec. 25, nothing remarkable was noted regarding Schlienz.

Once Schlienz was at St. Mary's jail, staff were alerted between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. "that he was basically on life support and there wasn't going to be a good outcome," Litman said. At that point, Litman asked Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk to contact Schlienz's family.

When family members arrived, both Wolke and Gary Schlienz said they hardly recognized Daniel Schlienz.

"I walked in on my brother dead," Wolke said. "He looked so bad I started screaming and I collapsed ... he was swollen and black."

Wolke said the hospital coroner told her that Schlienz died from disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is a complication in which small blood clots disrupt blood flow and can lead to organ failure.

However, it was unclear if that was the underlying cause of his death. Litman said the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy Tuesday and ruled the cause and manner of death as "undetermined" pending additional lab tests, which could take several weeks.

Litman said there were no signs of any injury, and that the investigation was pointing toward a physiological or medical condition and not a traumatic cause of death.

Wolke said her brother had a cough throughout much of his life. She said she was concerned about the care her brother received while in custody.

"We're concerned about the violation of constitutional rights," she said.


Information from: Duluth News Tribune,

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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