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No cause yet for Cerro Gordo inmate deaths

No cause yet for Cerro Gordo inmate deaths

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MASON CITY — Officials are still waiting for test results to determine what caused the deaths of two Cerro Gordo County Jail inmates.

The tests and consultations were ordered during the autopsies of Dacota Witham, 28, and Edward Hochstatter, 54. Both men were incarcerated in Mason City at the time of their deaths.

Witham was declared dead after being found unresponsive in his cell on Dec. 1. Hochstatter died while in a shared dorm on Jan. 2.

Foul play was ruled out in both deaths, which were unrelated, according to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

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Agents from the Iowa DCI investigated the deaths at the request of the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office.

Although the men’s initial autopsies by the Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office found no signs of trauma or foul play, the cause of Witham’s and Hochstatter’s deaths were not readily apparent, officials said.

Samples taken during the autopsies were sent to outside experts for consultation and examination. The Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office routinely sends samples to experts in specialized fields for evaluation, which can take several weeks.

Consultations ordered during Witham’s and Hochstattter’s autopsies have not been completed, said Iowa DCI Agent Chris Callaway.

Witham, Mason City, was serving a 60-day jail sentence for violating his probation from convictions for misdemeanor domestic abuse, child endangerment and animal neglect.

Hochstatter, of Bloomington, Minnesota, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Clear Lake the day before he died.



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