Autopsy on Sylmar Woman Who Died in Jail Planned

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The death of a 38-year-old Sylmar woman in the Van Nuys jail was being investigated by Los Angeles police Tuesday but the cause will not be known until the completion of an autopsy later this week, officials said.

Helen Davis was found dead on the floor of a cell she shared with three other women about 6:15 p.m. Monday, when jailers began moving inmates to dinner, Lt. William Hall said. Davis was found on the floor next to her bunk but there was no sign of physical injury and foul play is not suspected, he said.

Davis had been arrested Friday evening on suspicion of possession and sale of crack cocaine at the intersection of San Fernando Road and Foothill Boulevard in Sylmar. She was held at the Van Nuys jail through the weekend and was due to be arraigned on the charge Tuesday.

Hall said Davis had a long history of drug abuse and that she was treated by the jail's medical staff during the weekend for minor complaints about abscesses apparently caused by hypodermic needle use. However, the treatment amounted to the changing of bandages and did not involve providing her any medication, Hall said.

"She had complaints about some abscesses, small stuff," Hall said. "Anyone who is real sick is not kept there because there is no medical facilities, just a doctor and a nurse."

But she did not complain of any other malady, Hall said. Reports that Davis was treated at the jail with an anti-seizure medication were erroneous, added Hall, who is charge of the investigation.

Hall said an autopsy, possibly performed as early as today, would probably determine what caused the woman's death.

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