MERCED -- A 38-year-old female inmate at the John Latorraca Correctional Center was found dead in her cell Saturday morning, just before she was to be released on bail, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.
Leticia Willoughby's body was found by correctional officers before 6 a.m. at the jail, according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.
Foul play isn't believed to be involved, and MacKenzie said it appears Willoughby died after she'd lain down to go to sleep. She was in the administrative segregation cell by herself.
The cause of death is unknown, and MacKenzie said deputies won't have further details until an autopsy is conducted this week. Deputies are also awaiting toxicology reports, which will help determine whether she was under the influence of any substances.
Willoughby had been booked at the jail Friday by Merced police on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance for sale, misdemeanor presenting false identification to law enforcement, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, with a gang enhancement.
Willoughby had complained about being cold to correctional officers after being brought to the jail, Sheriff Mark Pazin said.
Pazin said medical staff reviewed her complaints, and she became uncooperative before deciding to rest. "She said she wasn't feeling well, we offered her a blanket and a sweat shirt," Pazin said.
Arrangements had been made by Willoughby's friends to post her bail Saturday, and deputies had started the paperwork for her release when the body was found, Pazin said.
Willoughby's family members are extremely saddened by her death, and some visited the jail Sunday afternoon, searching for answers. When asked whether Willoughby used drugs the night of her death, the family members said she did not.
Willoughby's 18-year-old daughter, Brianna Willoughby, said she arrived at the jail about 3:30 a.m. Saturday to bail her mother out. She described waiting many hours to no avail. Brianna Willoughby said she was informed of her mother's death about 9 a.m.
Brianna Willoughby said deputies should have released her mother upon her arrival at the jail. "We stood there waiting and waiting," she said.
Alicia Pagaza, Willoughby's aunt, said her family members have many remaining questions about her death.
"She died in their hands," Pagaza said. "They were supposed to take care of her."