Rowan inmate facing murder charge dies while awaiting trial



On September 11, 2019, at about 8:15am, inmate James Christopher Rife passed away while he was an inmate at the Rowan County Detention Center awaiting trial in Superior Court. Inmate Rife was a 36 year old white male who had been in the Rowan County Detention Center for 266 days after being charged with Murder and Attempted Robbery with a Weapon on February 1, 2019. The victim of the crimes that Rife was charged with was Lakyn Jade Bailey.

James Christopher Rife was provided with his breakfast tray shortly before 8am while he was in his single cell. He talked briefly with the Detention Officer that handed him his tray of food, and then talked to the Officer a short time later when they checked to see if he was done with his tray. RCSO Detention Officers were notified by other inmates, sometime after 8am, that inmate Rife appeared to be slumped over in a seated position in his cell, and that could not get a response from him. Rowan County 911 was notified, and Detention Staff, including the on duty Nurse, responded to the cell, and immediately began performing CPR on Inmate Rife. Salisbury Fire Department and Rowan EMS were dispatched to respond to the Detention Center. It was determined that Inmate Rife had passed away after life saving efforts were determined to be unsuccessful. There were no signs of any trauma to Inmate Rife, and no signs of any foul play were found in his cell or on any video footage that was available.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office made contact with Inmate Rife’s family to notify them of his death. The NC SBI was contacted along with the NC Medical Examiner’s Office. The Medical Examiner responded and released the body to be taken for an autopsy. The NC SBI will continue with the investigation and any further release of information would be from their office.

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