WF Man Hangs Himself in Burk Jail


A Wichita Falls man was found dead in the Burkburnett city jail last night, and his mother said she tried many times to keep it from happening.

22-year-old Marcus Johnson was arrested Thursday for possessing a fake ID.
His mother, Shelly Parham, said her son was manic depressive and suicidal, and he’d been in the state hospital twice in the last four months.

She also said Marcus had an IQ of 42, and the mind of a 12-year-old, and that he’d already been off his medication for a few days when he was arrested Thursday afternoon.
“I said, ‘I need to give him his medicine.’ I said, ‘He is suicidal. He goes, ‘We know, we’re fixing to transport him within the hour, and then you can come down there and give him the medicine,'” Parham said. “I knew he was in that state of mind because he hadn’t had it.”

The transfer to the Wichita County jail never happened.

Parham’s phone shows multiple calls to the Burkburnett Police Department; she said each time, she heard a rejection to bring her son’s medications.

Around 10:45 p.m., she called again, only to find out they’d been trying to reach her.

That’s when Parham said a Wichita Falls Police Officer was sent to tell her the news.

“She came to let me know that my son passed away,” Parham said. “She came to tell me. I was like ‘Do you have kids?’ And she said. ‘Yeah, that’s why I’m here to answer your questions.’ And I said, ‘Well how could it happen?”

Parham was told that her son took the drawstring out of his pants, snuck it into his cell, and used it to hang himself.

“I believed in them,” she said. “I thought he’ll be safe now, and they’ll be able to watch him.”

Parham said Marcus was expecting his first child with his girlfriend, who was there at the time of his arrest.

Burk City Manager Mike Whaley confirmed the death of Marcus Johnson.

He said they’ve turned the case over to the Texas Rangers and it’s under investigation, but that’s the only comment he was willing to give at this time.

Parham said she plans to file a wrongful death suit, not only to get justice for her son, but to prevent this from happening to others with mental illness.

If you’d like to help Parham and her family with Marcus’ funeral expenses, click here to donate.

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