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updated: 6/1/2012 6:10 AM

Investigation continues into Kane jail inmate's death

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  • Keith Renfroe Jr.

    Keith Renfroe Jr.


An attorney representing the family of Keith Renfroe Jr., a 20-year-old Minnesota man who was found face down and unresponsive May 19 at the Kane County jail and later died, wants to have his own doctor perform a second autopsy.

Attorney Michael Padden said Thursday he retained a medical doctor who was present for the May 25 autopsy, and the doctor said there were no signs of exterior physical injuries on Renfroe, including bruising on his neck.

"We're trying to get to the bottom of it. Right now, we're just trying to find out what happened to our son," said Keith Renfroe Sr., who deferred other questions to Padden.

Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said Wednesday his office is conducting an internal investigation. Perez said Renfroe Jr. suffered "self-inflicted" injuries but did not specify what they were.

Perez and other officials have declined further comment on the investigation and autopsy.

Padden said deputies called Renfroe Sr. in Cottage Grove, Minn., May 19 with a different story.

"They were very specific (Renfroe Jr.) hanged himself," Padden said, adding authorities did not let his independent doctor see the shirt Renfroe Jr. had in his possession. "I think there's some pretty significant confusion about what the hell happened here."

Padden said Renfroe Jr.'s mother lives in Chicago Heights and he arrived in the Gilberts area to stay with an uncle and cousins and look for work about four or five days before his arrest. He was arrested May 18 and accused of breaking into a home in the 200 block of Rockville Lane in Gilberts and refusing to leave.

A resident said he saw Renfroe in his house after hearing a loud crash in the middle of the night. Renfroe said he was being chased by two people, ran into the bathroom and shut the door where he remained until police arrived and arrested him, the homeowner said.

Padden said if Renfroe Jr. was acting strange, he should have been taken to a hospital after his arrest or put in a detox area of the jail. Padden said Renfroe Jr. broke into the home and told Gilberts police -- who have refused to comment on the arrest -- that two people with a knife were chasing him.

"That's somebody who is in mortal fear, whether rational or not, for his life," Padden said. "Normally, they would be put into a detox facility as opposed to being put in a jail cell."

Padden said Renfroe Jr. was out that night with some other young adults and they had consumed alcohol, and the others said Renfroe did not ingest any recreational drugs.

"That's what the young people who were with him ... that's what they say," Padden said, declining to elaborate.

Padden said Renfroe Jr. never regained consciousness and his family had life support removed May 24.

Kane County authorities have denied a Freedom of Information Act request seeking more information about what happened to Renfroe Jr., saying was still an ongoing investigation.

"This matter is under active investigation by the Kane County Sheriff's Office, and the premature disclosure of those materials will interfere with the completion of the investigative report, and any decisions that may derive there from. Therefore, for the above reasons, the Kane County Sheriff's Office is denying your FOIA request for the above specified documents," wrote Lt. Patrick Gengler in an email Thursday morning in response to the Daily Herald's FOIA request submitted late Wednesday.

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