Photo courtesy
Rexdale Henry, above, died while in police custody in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on July 14. Police charged Henry's cellmate, Justyn Schlegel, with his death.

Cellmate Is Suspect in Death of Choctaw Man, Police Say; Choctaw Issue Statement

Simon Moya-Smith

Authorities in Philadelphia, Mississippi, have named a suspect in the suspicious death of Native American activist and medicine man Rexdale Henry.

Justyn Schlegel, 34, was in the Neshoba County Jail cell with Henry when police found him dead, Sheriff Tommy Waddell said, according to WAPT News. Schlegel is now being charged with Henry’s murder.

RELATED: Manning: Sarah Lee Circle Bear Died While in Police Custody; Family Seeks Justice

Police arrested Henry on July 9 for failing to pay a minor traffic citation. According to reports, Henry was last seen alive at 9:30 a.m. on July 14, but by 10 a.m. he was deceased.

Henry was a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and was recently a candidate for tribal council. The tribe said in a statement released Friday that they are mourning the loss of Henry and are working with authorities to reveal what occurred leading up to his death.

“I, along with the entire tribal community, am saddened by the loss of Mr. Henry. I am committed to working with authorities to see justice served in this case,” Tribal Chief Phyliss Anderson said in a statement. “Please continue to keep the Henry family in your thoughts and prayers.”

RELATED: Couple Allegedly Set Homeless Native American Man on Fire, Police Say

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is reportedly looking into the crime. Anonymous donors paid to have Henry’s body flown to Florida for an independent autopsy.

The suspicious death of Henry is the latest in several cases like his that have recently sparked national attention. On July 13 – one day before Henry’s death – Sandra Bland, an African American woman, was found hanging in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell. Medical examiners ruled her death a suicide, but Bland’s family argued that she would not have killed herself given all she had to live for.

Less than a week before Bland’s death, a Lakota mother of two, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, was found unconscious on July 6 in a jail cell in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Circle Bear was later taken to a hospital where she died.

Witnesses said Circle Bear was suffering excruciating pain and heard her pleas for help. The jailers allegedly told her to “knock it off” and “quit faking.”

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page