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Lake County inmate who killed himself had ‘dozens’ of cuts on body

Updated: May 24, 2014 6:21AM

A Lake County Jail inmate who hung himself on Friday had cuts, likely from a razor, all over his body — some as recent as one to three days before his death — according to autopsy results released this week, raising questions about why sheriff’s officials did not find him to be a risk to himself prior to his suicide.

Igor Karlukov, 36, a Ukraine national from Palatine, had dozens of cuts that were made by a razor or a sharp knife to his chest, neck, legs and arms. The cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said.

“He’s got marks all over his extremities,” Rudd said. “He was cutting himself.”

Karlukov had been placed on suicide watch out of caution, Undersheriff Raymond Rose said at a news conference Friday. Still, he had been cleared to be in the jail’s general population.

On March 28, Karlukov was seen to have a cut on his neck, which he claimed happened when he stumbled and struck his neck against a door. Rose said an correctional officer had witnessed the stumble.

“It was determined [by health staff] that he was not a risk to himself or intent on self-harm,” Rose said.

When asked why Rose said Karlukov was placed on suicide watch after stumbling, but the autopsy revealed that he had multiple cuts, a Lake County Sheriff’s spokeswoman, Sgt. Sara Balmes, said, “He was on razor restriction. The scratches on his extremities were in the healing phase and identified by the coroner’s office as remote.”

Balmes said that the marks on the prisoner’s body were “scratches . . . similar to scratches one would receive from a thorn bush,” but did not explain how the inmate, who had been in jail since February 10, would have come into contact with something like a thorn bush.

Rudd said that the term remote referred to the fact that the marks were “not pertinent to the cause of death.” He added that, “They are not scratches, they are cuts, and they are all over his body, and there is one in his leg that is very deep. There are dozens.”

Karlukov used shredded pieces of a mesh laundry bag inmates are issued, along with a piece of copper wire from a set of earbuds that the inmates are also allowed to use, to hang himself inside his cell.

When Karlukov was checked at 2:42 a.m. Friday he was seen through a window reading a book, Rose said. At 2:56 a.m., he appeared to be standing next to the wall and his desk, then at 3 a.m., the correctional officer saw him in the same position and became concerned and went inside the cell Karlukov occupied by himself and found him hanging inside the cell.

Balmes said that prior to his death, the prisoner “was seen by a social worker and a psychiatrist. We followed the protocol of having a social worker and a psychiatrist evaluate Karlukov.”

Balmes did not answer a question as to why the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force was not called to investigate the death, which is routine when there is an in-custody death. Calls to the commander of the task force were not returned.

Karlukov was arrested by Mundelein police Feb. 10 after he went to his girlfriend’s home and forced his way inside. He was charged with home invasion that caused injury, domestic battery, violation of an order of protection, aggravated stalking and domestic battery by strangulation.

This is the third unnatural death of a jail inmate since 2012.

Lyvita Gomes, 52, a native of Mumbai, India, who was living in Vernon Hills, launched a 15-day hunger strike to protest her incarceration for failing to appear for jury duty, then died of malnutrition and dehydration less than a week later.

Eugene Gruber, 51, of Grayslake, suffered paralyzing neck injuries while struggling with officers in the jail, then died months later after being transferred to a Chicago rehabilitation center.

Early this year, the county agreed to settle a nearly $2 million federal lawsuit filed by Gruber’s family. A federal lawsuit filed by Gomes family is pending.

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