An inmate accused of threatening the family of a local builder died in his cell Sept. 29.
When 72-year-old Mark Klos was incarcerated at the county jail Sept. 27, he’d made graphic, violent threats against a local family, and spoke obliquely about his own death, in a ranting, rambling email.
That information is evident from a Sheriff’s Office charging affidavit filled out by a Sheriff’s Office deputy on Klos. The document quotes the email, and Klos was charged with making threats to kill or do bodily harm, a felony.
A few days after he was booked into the jail for threats to kill, Klos himself was dead: He’d apparently killed himself in his cell, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release, and has body was found Sept. 29, leaning against the cell door.
The Sheriff’s Office has requested a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into Klos’ death, and is releasing minimal information: The agency has not stated, for instance, whether Klos was determined to be a threat to himself at intake or was placed in any kind of precautionary hold when he was admitted to the jail.
But there is “no apparent foul play or suspicious circumstances surrounding the death,” according to the Sheriff’s Office news release. That language is used when law enforcement does not believe that a death was caused by a third party.
A separate internal investigation is also underway at the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office does have a screening system and a series of precautions designed to prevent inmate suicides, Detention Facility Cmdr. Steve Cole said.
It’s largely been successful: There hasn’t been a suicide at the jail since Cole has been there, and he’s been there 25 years. An inmate attempted suicide in February of this year, but that attempt was foiled by fellow inmates.
Such attempts are rare, Cole said, and the investigation of Klos’ apparent suicide will result in an after-action report.
When inmates come to the jail, Cole said, there are potential scenarios: Suspects who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others before the intake process even begins might not go straight to the jail. If they’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor, they might be placed in a psychiatric facility under a Baker Act.
But that option isn’t available in the case of inmates who, like Klos, have been charged with felonies. A felony suspect who’s considered a threat to themselves would be placed under suicide precautions at the jail, including “direct observation” — full-time monitoring by a detention deputy.
In other cases, it isn’t clear before the intake process begins that an inmate might be at risk of suicide. But the intake process involves a medical clearance that is designed to determine, among other things, whether an inmate will need to be placed under suicide precautions.
Medical intake involves a nurse — there’s one on staff 24 hours a day at the jail — and a booking deputy. Neither are mental health specialists; a psychiatric nurse practitioner does work at the jail, but only once a week, and not at intake.
The entire intake process takes about an hour to an hour and a half, of which perhaps 15-20 minutes of that is medical processing, Cole said. The booking deputy would have access to the inmate’s charging affidavit. Inmates are asked a series of questions during the screening process, and if they’re determined to be an immediate threat to themselves, they can be placed under direct observation and stripped of anything that could be used in a suicide attempt. Their clothing is taken and replaced by a gown; they’re fed only soft food.
Inmates deemed a threat to themselves, but less of an immediate one, might be placed on a “15-minute watch,” with jail staff checking on them every 15 minutes.
“We try to step [inmates] down,” Cole said. “The most serious ones are direct observation. If they show improvement, we start giving items back.”
Mark Klos’ home on Palm Drive in Flagler Beach, near the Intracoastal, was flooded in Hurricane Irma.
“His home was damaged all throughout, and he had to get somebody to redo his entire house,” said Anne Kissel, the facilitator of the Flagler Beach Djembe Drummers, a local drumming group which Klos joined about a year and a half ago. He was skilled on African drums, meeting with the group twice a week and becoming an integral part of the group’s “back beat,” she said.
Klos had the home redone, and afterward, Kissel said, “It was just gorgeous.” He’d had her over post-renovation and asked her advice on window shades. She’d never heard him say anything negative about the reconstruction process. And he’d lavished praise on Levitsky Furniture — an antique repairer who’d repaired his antique wooden table after the flood — and left a testimonial on the company’s website, calling Levistky “truly an artisan.”
But Klos, apparently, was unsatisfied with one of the builders — John Tietje, 48 — and Tietje’s construction company. Klos demanded a full refund, according to the charging affidavit. He began threatening Tietje and his family by email and phone, starting in March.
Tietje agreed to a partial refund because some work had already been done, and he feared that if he gave a full refund he’d never be paid.
At 11:34 a.m. Sept. 26, a Wednesday, Tietje and his wife received the following email:
“Here is the situation, either Tony, John’s father in law, pays me or you pay me. I would not want to go to my grave knowing the devastation and suffering to my family was caused by my failure to accept responsibility in honoring my commitment. Imagine yourself being attached to a time bomb which can be triggered at any given moment. Or imagine your daughter having to spend the rest of her life wearing a veil to conceal the horrific stars caused by the acid burn to her face. Lady, this is NO GAME! The very fact that you are reading this convinces me BEYOND a SHADOW OF ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER that your family has never encountered ANYONE like myself. I’m all done being a nice guy.
“In a court of law, litigation is nothing more than throwing money at a problem to make it go away and an out of court settlement is, always, ideal. This will be, MOST DEFINITELY, settled out of court either amicably or adversely; it’s up to Tony. My people are in place and are ready to act if he chooses incorrectly.
“So, my money by next week or....
P.S. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES am I to hear from ANYONE Except Tony. That means if you, John, or anyone else contacts me, I will consider it to be the epitome of disrespect which will set in motion a situation that only a lunatic would want.”
Tietje and his wife Yvette, 45, have children, including a teen girl. They contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
The last time Klos had been charged with a crime in Flagler County, according to Clerk of Court records, was in 2001: He was charged with contempt of court for violating a domestic violence injunction. He was found guilty. He’d been charged with the same thing earlier that year, but the ealier case hadn’t moved forward.
Klos was booked at the county jail on the felony threats charge at 7:28 p.m. Sept. 27, according to jail records, and was being held without bond.
He had a first appearance before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins on Sept. 28. The same day, John Tietje filed for an injunction against Klos for protection against stalking.
The next morning, detention deputies and the nurse at the jail found Klos dead in his cell at 9:31.
Deputies and the nurse initiated CPR and tried an AED until Flagler County Fire Rescue arrived and took over. Fire Rescue pronounced Klos dead, and the Sheriff’s Office placed the jail on lockdown.
“It is tragic anytime someone takes their life,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in the FCSO’s news release. “We have many services available to our inmates, including mental health services through Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare. We extend our condolences to his family.”