If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression, you can call the Crisis of Intervention Houston Hotline at 832-416-1177.

As Delia Paredez Obregón recently sat on the porch of her Conroe home listening to birds sing, she thought about her brother and what she’ll miss about him.

Raul Paredez had been apt to whistle, especially when in good moods — a “happy person all the way around,” Obregón said. 

Raul Paredez, 67, died in an apparent suicide at the Montgomery County jail on April 21. He was the 12th person to die in the custody of the jail since 2012. (Photo courtesy of Delia Paredez Obregón)

But Paredez had grown distraught after being transferred to another cell block in the Montgomery County jail, where he was serving time on a driving while intoxicated charge.

“That’s when he started really talking crazy. Like, ‘It’s bad in here, they’re real loud, they want to rape me,’” Obregón said.

On April 21, Paredez was found hanging in his cell, according to a custodial death report filed April 27 with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The report did not say what Paredez hung himself with.

After being found, Paredez was cut down and given medical assistance by jail staff and emergency medical services, according to the report, but was declared deceased a short time later. 

Serving sentence for third DWI offense

The cause and manner of death are pending autopsy results. Montgomery County officials did not issue a news release announcing Paredez’s death.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death, and the Texas Rangers are providing assistance, said Sgt. Erik Burse, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The investigation is ongoing and will be turned over to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office once complete.

Paredez, a Conroe resident, was two months into a two-year sentence for his third driving while intoxicated offense, according to the custodial death report. 

In the report, jail staff said Paredez had not previously made suicidal statements during this jail stay, nor had he previously exhibited mental health problems.

At the time of his death, Paredez was being housed in a single cell. He had requested the cell because he feared being assaulted, the report says. According to the report, Paredez was checked on by jail staff at 4:14 p.m., 4:36 p.m., and 4:58 p.m. before his body was found at 5:04 p.m.

Paredez, who never married nor had children, lived with his older sister off and on for the past 15 years. 

Raul Paredez, 67, died in an apparent suicide at the Montgomery County jail on April 21. He was the 12th person to die while in the custody of the jail since 2012. (Photo courtesy of Delia Paredez Obregón)

Obregón, 71, said her brother was a machinist by trade and could fix anything. 

She said he also liked to stay busy. It was not unusual for Paredez to paint the house, make a gazebo, watch the dogs or give his sister rides when he was between jobs.

“I felt safe whenever I went anywhere with him,” Obregón said.

Since 2012, 13 people, including Paredez, have died either while in the custody of the Montgomery County jail or shortly after being processed into the facility. Around 60 percent had previously exhibited mental health symptoms that were documented by court, jail or law enforcement personnel, according to a Houston Landing examination of custodial death reports.

A week after Paredez died, another inmate at the jail was found unresponsive with low blood pressure, according to a custodial death report. Kerry Paul Young was taken to Conroe Hospital, where he was put on life support. His spouse decided to take him off life support a week after that.

Young had preexisting medical conditions, including cirrhosis of the liver and heart problems, the report says, and had refused to take his medication after being booked into the jail on April 18.

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Monroe Trombly is a public safety reporter at the Houston Landing. Monroe comes to Texas from Ohio. He most recently worked at the Columbus Dispatch, where he covered breaking and trending news. Before...