San Bernardino, CA - San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials have identified the inmate found hanging in his jail cell as Raymond Michael Williams, 35.
Williams, described by authorities as the leader of the Inland Empire Skinheads, reportedly hung himself while incarcerated at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.
The former tattoo artist from Perris, in Riverside County, was arrested in April along with six other members of the Inland Empire Skinheads, and faced charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and carrying a loaded firearm, according to court documents obtained by RIMOFTHEWORLD.net.
A confidential source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, explained that the Inland Empire Skinheads utilized Internet sites like MySpace to recruit members from area high schools, possibly including the mountain communities.
A media advisory released from the Sheriff's Department headquarters about Williams' death indicated the inmate hung himself Friday. He was found at 1:02 a.m. by his cellmate who reported the incident to guards.
The release stated, "Evidence discovered during the investigation indicates suicide and foul play is not suspected."
Williams was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation at West Valley before being transported to Kaiser Hospital in Fontana, where he was pronounced deceased at 2:06 a.m.
An autopsy was scheduled to be conducted by the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner to determine the exact cause of death. Persons with information about the incident are urged to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Homicide Detail at (909) 387-3589.
Following the arrest of Williams and the other alleged gang members in April, Sheriff Rod Hoops reported the gang was first noticed in 2002 by area law enforcement agencies.
Hoops, who declined at that time to release specifics about the arrests because the investigation was ongoing, noted that the reported hate gang had more than 30 identified members but fewer than 100.
The Sheriff explained members of the group were from throughout the Inland Empire. Those arrested were from both Riverside and San Bernardino County.
Hoops and lead investigator Deputy Eric Ogaz, told media representatives at a special press conference that the group had been tied to the Hammerskins, a national white supremacist organization.
The two officers reported members of the gang had been involved in a number of murders, attempted murders, murder conspiracies, assaults, witness intimidation, drug trafficking and home invasion robberies. They did not elaborate during the press briefing.
When deputies arrested Williams, he was taken into custody at an area hospital where his wife was giving birth.
On April 22, Williams was scheduled to be arraigned via video from West Valley. He declined and an in-person arraignment was held on Thursday, April 23. Judge Brigid McCann set bail for $500,000 after Williams entered a not guilty plea in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Last Friday, September 25, a trial readiness calendar hearing was scheduled before Judge John Tomberlin. However, because of Williams' death, the case was dismissed on motion by Deputy District Attorney Michael Dauber.