John Stacy Wacaser

John Stacy Wacaser

RIPLEY • An inmate being held on murder charges died in the Tippah County Jail Monday night, according to Sheriff Karl Gaillard.

A fellow inmate discovered John Stacy "Cooter" Wacaser, 52, of Ripley, was hanging by a T-shirt in his cell around 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 26. Jail staff and one of the inmates performed CPR but were unable to resuscitate Wacaser.

Jail administrator and Tippah County Coroner Chris McCallister said he did not believe foul play was involved. Wacaser's body is being sent to the state medical examiner's office in Pearl for an autopsy. The case has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

"Investigators found evidence that he had been planning this for quite a while," said Gaillard on the hanging. "He was writing some stuff, almost as if he was getting his affairs in order."

Gaillard said no suicide note was found.

McCallister said that after the incident, other inmates indicated they suspected Wacaser might harm himself, but they had not told jail staff of their suspicions.

Inmates were out of their cells for recreational activities at the time of the incident, leaving Wacaser alone in his cell. Jail inmates are typically locked down around 10 - 10:30 p.m. and are checked on every 30 minutes afterward, according to McCallister.

Gaillard said the jail's inmates have been upset by the situation.

"Our department chaplain came in and did some counseling with the other inmates in the pod," said Gaillard.

Wacaser was indicted by the grand jury earlier this month for first degree murder in the shooting death of Dectrick Sorrell "Red" McDonald, 42, of Ripley. The shooting occurred Monday, Feb. 22, in the White Oak Community on County Road 549.

Wacaser was being held at the jail on a $250,000 bond.

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