Police say prisoner may have died of natural causes

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted July 11, 2011, at 8:05 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Although the Maine State Medical Examiner’s Office had not yet released the cause of death of a 65-year-old convicted murderer, a Maine State Police spokesman said late Monday afternoon that the man likely died of natural causes.

“We are not investigating his death,” Stephen McCausland said.

Robert Ingerson, 65, died late Friday night at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport after being transported from Maine State Prison in Warren. He had served 45 years of a life sentence for killing his wife.

A press release from the Maine Department of Corrections, sent this weekend, reported his death and said that Maine State Police and the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office both were reviewing the case. Such reviews are in line with department policy as well as protocols set by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, according to Associate Commissioner Jody Breton.

An official at the Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday that the medical examiner still needed to complete the autopsy report and had no information to release.

Ingerson was convicted in 1966 of stabbing his estranged wife, Linda, to death while she walked home from work in Portland. He then apparently turned the knife on himself, according to past media reports.

Although given a life sentence, Ingerson was released from prison in the 1970s under Maine’s now-defunct parole system. But in 1980, he was arrested again and put on trial on charges of having raped a 16-year-old girl.

Ingerson was not convicted of that, but his parole was rescinded and his life sentence was reinstated.

Judy Garvey of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition said Monday that she had heard from two separate sources within the Maine State Prison that Ingerson was suffering from terminal cancer and that he had died of natural causes.

In response to some high-profile prisoner deaths, including that of Maine State Prison inmate Victor Valdez, coalition members advocated this winter for a law that would make it mandatory for the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office to determine whether an autopsy is needed in the case of prisoners who die.

That law, LD 168, was signed by Gov. Paul LePage on May 9 and requires among other provisions that an examination and inquest be held whenever a prisoner in county or state custody dies.

“We’re grateful that the medical examiner is looking into each death in a serious way,” Garvey said. “We’re grateful for the new legislation.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/07/11/news/midcoast/police-say-prisoner-may-have-died-of-natural-causes/ printed on August 23, 2014