Polk County deputies are conducting an apparent suicide death investigation after inmate and first-degree murder suspect Pedro Vega Jr., 46, was found by Polk County Sheriff's Office detention deputies during a routine inmate check at 6:09 p.m. on Sunday. On Saturday, Vega had been transferred to the Polk County Jail from the Osceola County Jail.
Inmates are checked every 15 minutes by a certified detention deputy. Vega was last seen by a detention deputy standing upright in his cell at 5:57 p.m. When a detention deputy looked into his cell again at 6:09 p.m., Vega was seen slouching against a wall of the cell with what appeared to be a sheet around his neck.
Deputies made entry into the cell and immediately cut Vega down from the sheet, which was wrapped around his neck. He was unresponsive. Jail medical staff and deputies immediately dialed 911 and utilized an AED, which advised them to begin CPR.
They administered CPR until EMS arrived. EMS took over CPR and transported Vega to Florida Hospital in Sebring. Vega could not be revived by the hospital staff and was declared deceased at the hospital.
A search of Vega's cell revealed two plastic spoons with sharpened ends, which were apparently used to force the torn ends of the bed sheet into the small circular openings of the air return vent where they were tied. Deputies also found a noose in the pillowcase.
"Pedro Vega had a history of escape and escape attempts - in fact he tried to escape custody when he was in the hospital last week. He appears to not to have wanted to spend the rest of his life in prison for his many heinous crimes, including murder. He was a very violent man, on a mission to escape, and ultimately, he did," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Vega was arrested on Wednesday after fleeing the scene of a murder, during which he fatally stabbed his aunt, Rosa Vega, 14 times, and critically stabbed his father, Pedro Sr., at least 20 times.
After his arrest, Vega remained in law enforcement custody at a hospital in Osceola County while being treated for a gunshot wound. While at the hospital, Vega attempted to escape. He told the PCSO detective who was in his room interviewing him that he needed to use the restroom - he was handcuffed to the bed on one side due to the injury to his other hand. When the handcuff was removed and the detective was escorting him to the bathroom, he grabbed the sliding glass door of the hospital room and pulled away from the detective, partially escaping out of the doorway into the hall. An Osceola County Deputy and hospital security who were just outside the room grabbed him, and together with the PCSO detective were able to secure him.
On Saturday, Vega was placed in an isolation cell at the South County Jail in maximum custody with a classification of dangerous and an escape risk. His charges were:
First Degree Murder (F-C)
4 counts Attempted First Degree Murder (F-1)
Armed Burglary (F-1)
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon (F-2)
False Imprisonment - Domestic Violence (F-3)
Aggravated Battery - Domestic Violence (F-2)
Burglary with Battery (warrant) (F-1)
VOP - original charge Aggravated Assault (warrant) (M-2)
Vega's criminal arrest history includes the following:
22 felony charges; 5 felony convictions
16 misdemeanor charges; 5 misdemeanor convictions
3 failures to appear
1 state prison incarceration (15 years)
12/1986 - NYPD - Attempted Rape
05/1988 - NYPD - Sale of Controlled Substance
09/1994 - Miami-Dade PD - Aggravated Battery on LEO, Resisting Arrest, Drug Possession
04/1997 - PCSO - DWLSR
04/1998 - PCSO - DWLSR, Failure to Appear
08/1998 - Haines City PD -Possession of Meth, Possession of Cocaine, Resisting Arrest
10/1999 - Haines City PD - Battery Domestic Violence
12/2000 - PCSO - Armed Burglary, Kidnapping, Sexual Assault, Battery Domestic Violence, Violation of Injunction for Protection
01/2001 - PCSO - Escape, Violation of Injunction for Protection, Kidnapping, Sexual Assault, Battery Domestic Violence, Stalking, Burglary, Petit Theft, Obstruction of Justice
Vega's state prison history includes:
9/2001 - Sentenced to 15 years in state prison for Escape; and 5 years in state prison for Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling
3/2002 - Sentenced to 5 years in state prison for Aggravated Stalking; and 5 years in state prison for Intimidating a Witness; and 5 years' probation for Aggravated Assault
Vega spent from March 2002 until March 2014 in state prison
When he was released from state prison in March 2014, he was sentenced to 5 years' probation, to be terminated in March 2019
PCSO policy requires four separate mandated, independent investigations to be conducted when an inmate dies. The PCSO Administrative Investigations Section is conducting an internal review. The PCSO Bureau of Criminal Investigations is conducting the death investigation. The Polk County Medical Examiner will conduct the autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death. Representatives from the State Attorney's Office responded to the scene, and all of the investigative findings and documents will be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office to complete their investigation.