Sheriff: 'No threat' after 2 Corrections officers die of gunshot wounds
Two Michigan Department of Corrections corrections officers who were found dead in their home Friday morning in Grand Traverse County both died of gunshot wounds, the sheriff's office said.
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Lt. Chris Oosse, spokesman for the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office, said the bodies of Tara Kelley, 53, and Angelina Winn, 49, were found in the 9 a.m. hour on Friday morning. A friend found them at their home on Walton, in the village of Kingsley, after stopping by to conduct a wellness check.
Oosse declined to say where in the home the women were found, or share investigators' view of the case. The medical examiner did not immediately respond to a request for information on the victims' official causes of death.
Oosse reiterated what the sheriff's office said Saturday morning when it announced the deaths, that there "still is no current threat" related to how they died.
After learning of the tragedy, the Michigan Department of Corrections' Wellness Team made its way from Lansing, where they had been engaging with new recruits, to the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, where the two women worked.
Wellness leader Lynn Gorski, coordinators Lennie Alcorn and Sandi Powell and chaplain coordinator Lloyd Scharer, who started in his new role that Monday, made that trip to meet with what Gorski described as a "close-knit staff" at Oaks. According to the 2019-20 budget, Oaks is budgeted for about 289 full-time positions.
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"This is a priority for us," Gorski said. It called for adjustments to the team's schedule, but the four spent the entire weekend at the facility. Along with Warden Les Parish, who spoke to each shift of workers over the weekend, members of the wellness team made themselves available for employees and their families.
Gorski said there are "heightened emotions" in a situation like this, involving "not only a sudden loss, but a tragic, violent loss, that leaves lots of questions."
Wellness coordinator Powell remained at the Oaks facility for at least part of the day Monday, and there will be "continued follow-up" over the weeks to come, Gorski said.
Michigan Corrections Organization, the union representing corrections workers, offered a statement:
The death of these two officers is a tragedy, and our hearts are with the staff at the Oaks Correctional Facility.
Corrections staff need resources to cope with the stress of their career and the impact it can have on their lives both inside of and outside of work.
We’re glad that the MDOC’s new Wellness Unit responded to help grieving staff.
Kelley and Winn worked at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee. Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington said, in a letter to employees, that both will be "missed by many."
Winn had worked for the department for 20 years and Kelley for 19. They both hired in at Pugsley Correctional Facility and moved to the Oaks in 2016.
The women's deaths come in the midst of what corrections employees call a "crisis" of employee mental health, that affects custodial staff in particular. Both 2016 and 2019 studies of employee mental health, conducted by the union and the department, respectively, found elevated levels of PTSD among staffers.
Three corrections staffers have died by suicide in 2019.
Staff Writer Sarah Rahal contributed.