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Atascadero State Hospital patient tries to hang himself in jail; other inmate found dead in cell

UPDATE 2:45 p.m. An Atascadero State Hospital spokesman confirmed that William Joseph Neufeld was the same patient who was involved in the attack of a hospital psychiatrist about 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 15.

No arrest was made at that time; Neufeld was taken into custody about a week later. Spokesman Craig Dacus said the delay was because of the ongoing investigation into the incident.

Details on the employee's injuries or where in the hospital the assault occurred were not released.

Original story: A former patient at Atascadero State Hospital who was being held in San Luis Obispo County Jail for allegedly assaulting a staff member at ASH was revived by jail staff after a suicide attempt on Thursday.

William Joseph Neufeld, 30, was found hanging in his cell in the jail’s mental health unit, according to sheriff’s officials. Jail records show Neufeld was taken into custody on Dec. 22 on suspicion of felony battery with serious bodily injury and felony assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm.

According to a news release, Neufeld had used his T-shirt to create a noose. A correctional deputy who was checking cells found him at 4:39 p.m. and summoned medical personnel, who administered oxygen and revived him.

He was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released back to jail custody.

It was not immediately clear which attack Neufeld is linked to at Atascadero State Hospital. ASH is a high-security state hospital located in southeast Atascadero that treats mentally ill inmates from the correctional system and other violent offenders.

In a separate incident on Thursday, a San Luis Obispo County jail inmate who was in custody for failing to register as a sex offender died Thursday afternoon.

Kevin Lee Strahl, 53, was found unresponsive in his cell on Thursday about 2 p.m., according to a news release from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

A correctional deputy found Strahl lying on his bed and summoned medical personnel, who tried to revive him through CPR and with an automatic external defibrillator. Strahl was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Sheriff’s officials did not find any sign of trauma and do not suspect foul play. An autopsy is scheduled for next week.

Strahl, a transient, was being held in a single-person cell. He had been in court on Thursday morning, where his bail was raised to $15,000 from $10,000. His next hearing was set for Jan. 10.

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