LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — A Harnett County Jail inmate who was found dead in his cell in December died from blunt force trauma, according to a recently released autopsy report.
William Earl Surles, 64, of Dunn, was found in his bunk around 8:20 a.m. on Dec. 19, according to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.
According to an autopsy from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released Friday, Surles shared a cell with another inmate and was last seen alive the night before his death.
The report said Surles had blunt-force trauma to the head and blood was found around the jail cell. He was pronounced dead at 8:38 a.m.
There were a minimum of five blunt impact sites: two to the face and three to the head, according to the autopsy.
“Law enforcement had suspicions for foul play due to statements made eluding to (Surles’) death being non-natural, as well as, the blood splatter on scene,” the autopsy reported.
In conclusion, the NCOCME ruled Surles’ death as a homicide.
Surles had been released from the hospital a week before he was found dead. He had his right second toe amputated because of diabetes, the autopsy stated.
After Surles’ death, Sheriff Wayne Coats requested the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation look into this case. Harnett County Sheriff’s Office said at the time it was conducting a parallel investigation to ensure all policies and procedures were followed.
On Thursday, when asked about the autopsy’s release, the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office referred CBS 17 to the SBI.
The SBI told CBS 17 on Friday that it is still investigating the case and that it had been waiting for the autopsy.