Lancaster County Prison

Lancaster County Prison

A Lancaster County Prison inmate died after hanging himself Wednesday morning, according to county coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni.

Kurt J. Strenck was found unresponsive by prison staff at around 7 a.m., according to a news release from Lancaster County Prison through the office of the Lancaster County Commissioners.

Strenck, 47, of South Carolina, died in his cell, according to Diamantoni. His death was ruled a suicide after an external examination at the coroner's office, Diamantoni said.

It is the first inmate suicide at Lancaster County Prison since 2015, according to news and Pennsylvania Department of Corrections records.

Prison staff tried CPR and notified EMS, according to the release. An ambulance was called to the prison for a suicide attempt just after 7 a.m., according to dispatches from Lancaster County-Wide Communications.

Strenck was declared dead after life saving efforts were unsuccessful, according to the release.

The prison said Strenck was found deceased but did not specify the cause or manner of death. The Lancaster city police were notified, and a full investigation is being conducted, the release said. 

Commissioner Josh Parsons, who chairs the prison board, deferred comment to Lancaster city police pending the investigation.

Lancaster County Prison Warden Cheryl Steberger did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Strenck July 27 with 19 felonies and eight misdemeanors regarding sexual assault of three female minors over a 16-year period in Leacock Township.

Strenck, of Charleston, was arrested July 31 and extradited to Pennsylvania to face the charges, which included rape of a child, aggravated assault of a child, incest and statutory sexual assault.

Strenck was arraigned Aug. 28 by District Judge Brian E. Chudzik and sent to the prison unable to post $2 million bail. He was at a preliminary hearing with District Judge Raymond S. Sheller on Tuesday, and all of charges were bound for Lancaster County Court.

Fifteen inmates died by suicide at the prison since 1998, according to LNP records. There were two suicide attempts in 2017, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

The prison started a suicide prevention committee in April 2015 after three inmates killed themselves by hanging within the first three months of the year.