Attempted murder investigation underway at Polk County jail

Inmate found unresponsive in cell, deputies say

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Polk County deputies say they’re investigating an attempted murder at the South County Jail and the victim is not expected to survive.

Authorities have not identified any of the men involved and instead only identified them as inmate one, inmate two and inmate three.

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Records show a detention deputy was conducting checks in the “S” medical dorm of the jail where inmates on suicide watch are housed around 7:40 p.m. on May 13 and noticed inmate one lying face down on his mattress under his blanket and not moving.

The deputy asked the cellmate, inmate two, to wake up inmate one. Inmate two lifted up inmate one’s arm and in the process lifted the man’s head to expose blood underneath, according to the report.

It was determined that inmate one was unconscious so he was taken to an area hospital to be treated for swelling and bleeding in his brain as well as a swollen eye, authorities said.

Deputies said inmate two was not cooperative and wouldn’t provide any details about what happened.

Records show investigators also interviewed two men who were in the same cell as inmates one and two earlier that same day.

Around 3:20 p.m., an inmate named John Ward Smith, 36, was found standing over inmate three with his foot on the man’s neck, according to the news release.

Inmate three was taken to a nurse to be treated for a bruised lip and a knot on his head. There’s a pending charge against Smith in connection with the attack.

Smith didn’t return to the cell the victim was found in after the incident at 3:20 p.m.

Smith was uncooperative with investigators while inmate three said he didn’t see anyone hurt inmate one, the report said.

DNA oral buccal swabs, fingernail clippings and hand swabs were collected from Smith, inmate two and inmate three because they were with inmate one that day.

The state attorney’s office has been notified about the case because it’s likely that inmate one will die.

If inmate one dies, the sheriff’s office will conduct a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation, the medical examiner will determine cause of death and the state attorney’s office will review the findings.