Widow of Harnett County inmate doesn’t believe he killed himself

LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — The widow of a Harnett County inmate who died Saturday said she has a hard time believing he took his own life.

Sheriff Wayne Coats said it appears 52-year-old Kevin McWhinnie of Fayetteville committed suicide by hanging at about 1:36 p.m. on Saturday.

Deputies arrested McWhinnie on Thursday and charged him with violating a domestic protection order. The domestic incident did not involve anyone in his immediate household.

McWhinnie appeared in court Friday but remained in jail for a federal probation violation issued by the U.S. Marshal Service, according to Sheriff Coats.

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Linda McWhinnie told CBS North Carolina she talked to her husband on the phone Saturday morning. He told her he wasn’t feeling well and mentioned having thrown up. She said he planned to lie down and to call her back in the afternoon.

Instead of a call from her husband, Linda McWhinnie said a deputy came to her home in Fayetteville to inform the family of her husband’s death.

She said the deputy failed to mention how he died. She said she learned that information from a CBS North Carolina report based on a press release issued by the sheriff at 5:30 p.m.

“I’m not buying the fact that he committed suicide. I know he needed medication, he had high blood pressure, and took anti-depressants,” Linda McWhinnie said.

“If he had any intentions of doing this, he would have asked to speak to his daughter and his granddaughter,” she added.

Sheriff’s investigators declined to discuss the case or her claims.

The State Bureau of Investigation took over the case according to standard procedure.

An SBI spokesperson said these investigations typically include conducting interviews of people at the jail, and usually involves both staff and fellow inmates.

Investigators also tend to talk to family members as part of their reports, which are then submitted to the district attorney along with the inmate’s autopsy.

McWhinnie’s widow said his autopsy is set to take place Tuesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services also sometimes take part in inmate death investigations.

DHHS has a jails and detention unit which conducts physical inspections of cells. Linda McWhinnie said she hopes inspectors find something, as she has many unanswered questions.

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