UPDATE MONDAY 11:34 A.M. – The Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office confirmed this morning that Bryan Michael Penner died at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend Monday morning at 8:11 a.m.
“Without the heroic efforts of Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Deputies, a Corrections Nurse, and Emergency Medical Technicians from the Bend Fire Department, Penner would have died last night at the jail. The focused, competent, and heroic efforts of this team of dedicated and professional public servants gave Penner a fighting chance for life,” said Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel in a statement released Monday morning.
“We are thinking of Mr. Penner’s family,” said Corrections Captain Michael Shults in a statement. “Our staff are trained in the signs of suicide and suicide prevention. Penner has been in the jail since February 22nd and showed no signs of being suicidal or having suicidal ideations. After being evaluated by Sheriff’s Office mental health professionals, he was housed in a dorm setting. Penner has been in the jail on ten occasions since 2007, most recently from December 11th, 2017 through January 6th, 2018, and has never shown any signs or indications of being a suicide risk.”
Penner is the sole suspect in the disappearance of 24-year-old Sarah Gomez and, according to the District Attorney’s Office his death makes the search for her more challenging.
“Unfortunately, as the search for Sarah extended from hours, to days, to weeks, it became obvious we are searching for her body and she will not be found alive,” said Hummel in his statement released Monday. “With Penner’s passing our chances of quickly finding Sarah plummeted. I encourage everyone in Deschutes County to report to law enforcement any suspicious tire tracks, earthen mounds, or other potential evidence they might see on their property. Sarah’s family is counting on our community to bring her home.”
Authorities are still investigating the incident at the Deschutes County Jail on Sunday night that led to Penner’s death. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office 31-year-old Penner was taken to St. Charles Bend after another inmate found him unconscious.
Penner was arrested in connection with the disappearance of 24-year-old Sara Gomez and remains in custody on a Contempt of Court charge.
The Sheriff’s Office released this statement at 3 a.m. Monday morning.
“On March 11, 2018, at about 8:40 pm, Inmate Bryan Michael Penner was discovered by another Inmate after an apparent suicide attempt in one of the jail housing units. The Inmate then alerted corrections staff. Corrections deputies and a corrections nurse responded and immediately began life-saving efforts, which continued until emergency medical personnel with the Bend Fire Department arrived. The Bend Fire Department has transported Penner to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.”
According to the press release Sheriff Nelson said he had requested the Oregon State Police lead this investigation and the Deschutes County Major Incident Team will assist.