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Body found hanging in La. cemetery was escaped work-release inmate, sheriff believes

The inmate had fled a work release assignment at Jett’s store in Jackson. La. over 10 days earlier

By James Finn
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

JACKSON, La. — Authorities believe a body found hanging in a tree in an East Feliciana Parish town is that of an inmate who apparently died by suicide after fleeing a work release assignment days earlier.

The body was discovered sometime Sunday in the cemetery in Jackson, a town of about 4,000 located roughly midway between St. Francisville and Clinton, the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office said. Jackson Police requested the help of the Sheriff’s Office in investigating the death.

The Sheriff’s Office believes the deceased is a 29-year-old man who had been held at the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center and fled a work release assignment at Jett’s store in Jackson over 10 days earlier, on Sept. 19. The escaped work-release inmate was identified in a preliminary investigation as Matthew D. Walker of Denham Springs, the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The Jetts store, where authorities said Walker was last seen working with his work-release detail, is a little over half a mile from the cemetery where the body was found, according to Google Maps.

West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Brian Spillman did not immediately return a phone message on Monday. His office oversees the detention center and work release program where Walker was held. It was not immediately clear what alleged crimes the authorities were holding for Walker for at the time of his disappearance.

The investigation is ongoing and a ruling on official cause and manner of death, as well as an official ruling on the identity of the deceased, will be made by the East Feliciana Parish coroner, the sheriff’s office said.