Docs: Inmate tried ‘violent’ escape days before jail death

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The inmate found dead in his cell on Thursday at the Muskegon County Jail had tried to escape from the jail three days earlier, court records show.

The Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department identified the inmate as 39-year-old Paul Bulthouse of Norton Shores.

He was convicted in February for possession of child pornography at his home, records show. But that’s not what sent him to jail.

A judge sentenced him to 5 years on probation, but records show Bulthouse kept violating the terms of that probation.

Court records show Bulthouse drank alcohol, kept getting on the internet, tried contacting his victim and refused sex offender treatment while out on probation. That landed him in jail on March 22.

Then on April 1, records show Bulthouse tried escaping from the jail by “violence.” The records don’t provide details.

When asked if the escape attempt was tied to his death, sheriff’s officials refused to comment.

Sheriff’s officials also won’t say if that’s why Bulthouse was being held in a detoxification cell at the jail. The one-person cell is designed so guards can continuously monitor an inmate.

Guards said they immediately called for jail medical staff after finding Bulthouse unresponsive in the cell at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Records show Bulthouse was single and lived with his parents. A woman who answered the family’s phone refused to comment Thursday.

Before the child porn conviction, Bulthouse had a short criminal record, which included stolen property in 2002 and impaired driving in 2009.

The sheriff’s office said it is awaiting autopsy results to confirm what caused Bulthouse’s death.

Following protocol for inmate deaths, the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Unit is handling the investigation.

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