Timothy M. Brokes, Jr., of Hannibal, was found dead Thursday evening by jail personnel.
The suspect in one of the most memorable crime sprees in Hannibal's recent history has committed suicide in the Marion County Jail.
Timothy M. Brokes, Jr., of Hannibal, was found dead Thursday, May 17, by jail personnel.
Brokes had been lodged in the jail since November 2017 after being granted parole from a previous drug-related sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He was immediately taken from the Department of Corrections to the Marion County Jail. Jail personnel relocated Brokes to an individual booking/holding cell for disciplinary reasons in February. Brokes faced charges ranging from assault to murder.
Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn confirmed the suicide at a Friday, May 18, press conference. Shinn said Brokes used a bed sheet to hang himself in his cell. He also indicated that jail personnel found a note in the cell. Shinn declined to elaborate on the content of the note beyond that it was “short” and “to the point.” Marion County Coroner Rick Jones pronounced Brokes deceased at the jail.
His body was taken to O'Donnell Funeral Home in Hannibal.
“It's taken a toll on my staff, there's no doubt about it,” Shinn said. “They're very distraught about it, along with the family members of those individuals incarcerated at the jail.”
Shinn said professional support would be available for staff if they need it. The last suicide at the jail took place in 2014, but suicide attempts occur periodically, Shinn explained.
“My staff does an excellent at preventing and stopping a lot of suicides that may happen at the jail through their intervention,” he continued.
Staff members receive crisis intervention training.
An autopsy will take place on Monday in Columbia.
Second incident this week
Brokes died less than 48 hours after a man in a neighboring cell attempted suicide.
On Tuesday, May 15, a 50-year-old man suffered serious injuries and was taken to Hannibal Regional Hospital, then transferred to another facility for treatment. Like Brokes, the inmate used a bed sheet to hang himself. He was located by jail personnel at 11:45 p.m., at which time they released the sheet and began CPR. They succeeded in returning a pulse.
As of Friday, the inmate was alive, but unresponsive. Shinn did not reveal his identity, only saying he had been incarcerated since February 2018 on a domestic assault charge.
Brokes and the unidentified inmate were able to communicate with each other in their single-man cells, although it's not clear if they discussed suicide.
It's protocol, Shinn said, for staff to check inmates once per hour. Protocol was followed in both incidents, he said, but the lapse in time between the checks was enough for both men to hang themselves. Personnel last saw Brokes at 7:49 p.m. At 8:46 p.m., his body was found.
Shinn said the sheriff's department will convene a group next week to review procedures and makes adjustments on the inmate check policy as necessary.
Brokes was in court day before suicide
Brokes was facing a number of charges from a January 2016 crime spree in Hannibal and Monroe City. In the evening hours of Jan. 12, 2016, Brokes — after taking his father's truck — allegedly shot and ran over Aaron Gauch near a home just west of Hannibal. He then allegedly went to a home on Summer St. in Hannibal and shot and killed Brittany Gauch, 30, who was Aaron Gauch's wife.
Following the shootings, Brokes and June Smith fled Hannibal and went to a motel in Monroe City. Police began an extensive search for Brokes and issued an endangered person advisory for Smith. It was later discovered that Smith was with Brokes willingly. She later pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution.
Travis Pugh, a Monroe City police officer, made contact with Brokes and Smith. As Pugh returned to his patrol car, Brokes allegedly opened fire on Pugh, injuring him. Pugh returned fire and struck Brokes, thus ending the manhunt.
From those crimes, Brokes faced a total of seven charges in two counties. He faced first-degree murder, first-degree assault, assault on a law enforcement officer, hindering prosecution and three counts of armed criminal action. He faced the possibility of the death penalty if convicted on the first-degree murder charge.
Nancy Earnest, the mother of Brittany Gauch, said this about the news of Brokes' suicide: "I would like to say that I hope Mr. Brokes made his peace with God, before he took his own life."
Earnest would also like to read the note Brokes left behind. However, she cast doubt on the case against Brokes.
"In several letters he told me he was going to plead not guilty to her murder, and tell the truth," she said in an email to the Courier-Post. "All I could tell him is: do not plead guilty to something you didn't do."
The Monroe County case involving the assault on Pugh had advanced the furthest.
During a motion hearing Thursday, May 17, in the Monroe County Courthouse, Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd heard motions from Brokes' defense attorney, Raymond Legg, to dismiss or disqualify the prosecuting attorneys who had been working on the charges against Brokes.
The motion for dismissal was denied, but Shepherd granted the order of disqualification for Marion County Prosecuting Attorney David Clayton and Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Talley Kendrick, along with Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner, Attorney General Investigator Steve Hayden and Attorney General secretary Corinn Puleo.
Shepherd ordered that prosecution files be submitted to attorney Mark Wasinger for further redactions, and Attorney General staff members were set to review the resulting data.
The disqualifications may have stemmed from evidence entered previously in which Brokes and his attorney discussed the case at the Marion County Jail. Those conversations are generally privileged.
Shinn said there was no indication Brokes was distraught following his Thursday court appearance.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control will handle the investigations into Brokes' death and the attempted suicide.
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