Inmate who led authorities on 50-mile pursuit dies by suicide in Holmes County Jail

Just three weeks after being jailed in Holmes County after leading multiple agencies on a 50-mile pursuit, 40-year-old Joshua James Cornelius, of Lebanon, Tennessee, took his own life Dec. 22.

According to an HCSO press release, an on-duty correctional deputy at the Holmes County Jail was conducting a routine security check when he saw an inmate alone in a confinement cell who had tied a piece of bedding around his neck and secured the other end to the cell door.

Multi-agency chase brings 50-mile pursuit to end in Ponce de Leon

Additional deputies were alerted who went in to check on Cornelius and began life saving measures including CPR until EMS could arrive. When EMS arrived, they continued life saving measures, which were ultimately unsuccessful. EMS pronounced Cornelius deceased. The Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene.

In early December, Cornelius went on a crime spree throughout Okaloosa, Walton and Holmes counties which included charges of grand theft, burglary, fleeing and eluding and grand theft auto. The spree culminated in a 50-mile chase which ended in Ponce de Leon on Dec. 9. Cornelius was found to be wearing an ankle monitor from a bondsman out of Tennessee at the time of his arrest.

Sheriff John Tate says Cornelius was in confinement when the incident occurred.

“He had been unruly in the pod and couldn’t get along with the other inmates,” said Tate. “Jail staff had placed Cornelius in confinement due to his behavior.”

Cornelius’s next of kin has been notified. The investigation is ongoing and are awaiting autopsy results.

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