Rosenberg family wants answers after father found dead in jail

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Rosenberg father found dead in jail, Ted Oberg reports. (KTRK)

He was booked into the Rosenberg jail -- just southeast from Sugar Land -- and hours later he was found dead.

Joseph Gunter's family says he had run-ins with the law in the past, but never thought they would get the call hearing he killed himself.

Gunter was booked into the Rosenberg city jail Monday afternoon.

He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, tampering with evidence, resisting arrest, and walking on the wrong side of the street.

Gunter was found unresponsive at 7:30pm.

On Tuesday, the Fort Bend District Attorney and Texas Rangers announced they are investigating. But Texas' lax regulation of city jails spurred a second look.

Indeed, Gunter's family is still dealing with the news that the 33-year-old father is dead.

"He was quite the character," said sister Victoria Nowak. "He was fun."

His family told them late Monday night he hung himself in the Rosenberg City Jail.

"What happened?," asked girlfriend Maria Martinez. "He hung himself? How could he have hung himself, with his belt?"

The death will be investigated, authorities said.

"That will be part of the investigation," Chief Dallis Warren, of the Rosenberg Police Department said.

Tuesday afternoon, Rosenberg Police Chief Dallis Warren told abc13 that jail officers found Gunter in the evening on a routine cell check.

Should there be better practices?

"That will be part of the investigation," Chief Warren said.

But abc13 has learned that city jails are immune from state regulations. There are no minimum standards on size, staffing or how often inmates have to be checked in on -- all things the larger county jails must do.

According to the Texas Attorney General, Rosenberg Police had just one death in custody since 2005.

But according to a federal justice department report, Texas may want to think again about its lax regulations on city jails.

A report written in 2005 says the suicide risk is five times higher in jails with fewer than 50 inmates, in contrast to larger more regulated facilities.

"There's no way he could have done this to himself," sister Victoria Nowak said. "Something happened and no one is answering our questions."

The family wants to know why Gunter killed himself. Just hours earlier he told him he was coming home.

Related Topics:
jail deathTed Oberg InvestigatesRosenberg
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