LARGO — Jackie Allen Randall was on suicide watch in a Hillsborough jail before he was transferred to the Pinellas County Jail last week for a trial.
He was originally put on suicide watch in Pinellas, too, before he was examined by a mental health professional and cleared to go to a maximum security cell on Friday.
On Monday night, he hanged himself from a bedsheet in his single-person cell, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies found him dead during a routine check around 10:45 p.m. He had scrawled a message to his family in toothpaste.
"He said goodbye to his family and that he was free, that he was glad he was free," said sheriff's Sgt. Tom Nestor.
Randall, 29, was facing the possibility of life in prison when his trial on robbery and escape charges started Tuesday.
His mother, Monica Camacho, said Tuesday that she was still trying to understand how her son could have killed himself. He had been on suicide watch at the Falkenburg Road Jail in Hillsborough County before he was transferred to the Pinellas jail on Oct. 11, she said. In Hillsborough, he had been awaiting trial on charges that included two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and another escape charge.
Camacho, 47, of Temple Terrace, said she last spoke to her son just a couple of hours before he died.
"He asked how everybody was doing and he asked how I was doing and me, I wasn't worried, thinking they've got him on suicide watch," she said.
The Sheriff's Office homicide and internal affairs detectives are investigating, which is standard procedure in an inmate suicide.
Randall underwent a standard intake screening when he was taken to the Pinellas jail, Nestor said. Pinellas jail officials were notified of his suicide watch status in Hillsborough, and Randall also told the intake nurse.
He was initially sent to the jail's health care division, which houses suicide watch patients, Nestor said. Randall was later seen by a mental health professional, either a psychiatrist or psychologist, who evaluated him and cleared him for transfer out of the health care unit. That doctor's name was not released Tuesday.
Randall was then transferred to maximum security on Friday because of his previous escape attempts and the attempted murder charges, Nestor said.
Authorities say Randall has tried to escape twice, first from St. Petersburg police in September 2010 and then a month later from Hillsborough County deputies.
He was to go on trial Tuesday on the St. Petersburg escape charge, as well as charges that he robbed a convenience store in September 2010 and snatched a woman's purse in May 2010. The latter crime came just five months after Randall was released from state prison after serving most of a 10-year sentence for robbery and cocaine possession.
In the first escape attempt, in St. Petersburg in September 2010, Randall was being arrested after a store robbery when he bolted from police putting him into a cruiser.
The second escape attempt was violent and garnered the attempted murder charges, authorities said. In that case, in October 2010, Randall complained that he had a condition that didn't allow him to walk, Hillsborough deputies said. After a doctor recommended further evaluation, he was taken to a radiology center on Bell Shoals Road. As Randall was taken back to a jail transport van, he hopped from his wheelchair and ran.
When the deputies caught up to him, Randall reached for one of their guns and ripped the holster. That's when a deputy pulled out a baton and hit Randall on the head. He was eventually subdued.
Randall had a 13-year-old son, Camacho said. In their last phone conversation, he asked her to send a message to his family members: "He said 'Mom, tell everybody I love them,' " she said.
Camacho said her son had previously tried to kill himself twice: once by trying to swallow a razor and once by trying to hang himself.
"Somebody messed up somewhere," she said.