Published September 16. 2013 5:00PM Updated September 17. 2013 12:46AM
The inmate who committed suicide Friday at the Hartford Correctional Center was an active-duty Navy sailor who was charged with sex crimes involving two teen-age girls from southeastern Connecticut.
John M. Tyhurst, 31, was found by correctional staff at 8:02 p.m. unresponsive in his cell with “a ligature tied around his neck,” according to the Department of Correction statement. He was alone in the cell.
Correctional and medical staff performed emergency life-saving measures, and Tyhurst was transported to St. Francis Hospital, but he was pronounced dead at 8:46 p.m., the DOC said.
A woman who answered the phone Monday at the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said a medical examiner had ruled that the cause of death was hanging and the manner was suicide.
Tyhurst was an Information Systems Technician, 1st Class who was on active duty and assigned to the transient personnel unit at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. He reported there August 2012, according to Lt. Timothy A. Hawkins, a Navy public affairs officer.
He had previously been stationed at the Submarine Base in Groton, detaching from the USS Missouri (SSN 780) in August 2010. Court records indicate he was divorced in 2011 and that his home in Taftville was foreclosed early this year.
Tyhurst had been incarcerated since July 30, when state police charged him with second-degree sexual assault, three counts risk of injury to a minor and two counts of employing a minor in an obscene performance.
He was accused of picking up two girls and, with his own children who live in the area in the car, taking them to a hotel in Willington, where he sexually assaulted one of the girls while his children stayed in another room.
The mother of one of the victims, who has been in touch with The Day about the case since early July, was shocked when she learned over the weekend that Tyhurst had committed suicide. She said it has been a very difficult time for her family.
“We will continue to think about the family of the deceased and of the other victims and hope they find some peace,” she said.
The Day does not identify victims of sexual assault and is not identifying the mother in order to protect the identity of the victim.