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Woman’s body found near Whiteside county jail

November 27, 2014

MORRISON, Ill. (AP) — A woman was found dead of apparent hypothermia about 30 hours after being released from a northwestern Illinois jail while a snowstorm was moving through the area, authorities said.

The woman’s body was found around 3 p.m. Tuesday in a wooded area a few blocks north of the Whiteside County Jail, Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi told The Daily Gazette in Sterling (http://bit.ly/1rsaKbD ).

The sheriff did not release the woman’s name, but Jamie Richards of Lyndon told the newspaper that the woman was his mother, 65-year-old Janet Sims of Rock Falls, who suffered from bipolar and schizoaffective disorders and had been in and out of hospitals and the jail for the past 18 months.

She was released Monday morning after serving 5 days of a 10-day sentence for contempt of court in a trespassing case.

Wilhelmi said it is unclear if the woman called anyone for a ride, and the department does not provide rides for liability reasons. He said she sat upstairs at the jail for a few hours after her release before deciding on her own to leave.

“I feel horrible,” Wilhelmi said. “You never want to see anything like this happen ... our hearts go out to her and her family.”

He said the staff did not know about Sims’ mental issues, a contention disputed by her son.

Richards said the last time his mother was in jail, he asked staff to call the county health department to get her on medication but allegedly was told they could not do that. And when she was released, he said, staff called him to pick up his mother.

He said neither he nor his brother knew their mother, whose 65th birthday was Monday, was being held, and called her death “just tragic.”

“I just don’t understand how anyone can take someone with a mental illness and send them out the door in a snowstorm and just tell them good luck,” he said.

Wilhelmi said an autopsy was pending, but no foul play is suspected. He said his department will release more information as the investigation progresses.

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Information from: The Daily Gazette, http://www.saukvalley.com

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