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CLAYTON • St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger on Monday placed a top police commander in charge of the county jail where three inmates have died this year, while prosecutors mull criminal charges in one of the cases.

Stenger appointed Lt. Col. Troy Doyle as the interim director of St. Louis County Justice Services, saying he had established “a record of leadership and trust.”

Doyle replaces interim director Julia Childrey, who will return to her previous position as superintendent of operations with Justice Services.

“I intend on evaluating the operations of St. Louis County Justice Services and enhancing performance anywhere possible,” Doyle said in a statement. “Learning and listening are among my first priorities.”

Childrey could not be reached for comment. A lawyer for the mother of inmate Lamar Catchings, who died on March 1 of leukemia, filed suit against Childrey last week for refusing to turn over public records about the jail operations. The lawyer, Mark Pedroli, also sent an email last week to members of the County Council alleging that Childrey had held back on records that were supposed to be turned over for the council’s inquiry into the deaths.

Clayton police detectives recently presented evidence to prosecutors for possible criminal charges in the Feb. 23 death of John Shy, the second of the jail’s three deaths, said Sam Alton, chief of staff for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell. The case was assigned to a senior staff attorney on the homicide unit for review, he said. No details have been made available about potential suspects or charges.

The 29-year-old Oakville man died from an intestinal hemorrhage of unknown cause, according to an investigation by the medical examiner. He had been in jail nine days. His jailers twice sent him to St. Mary’s Health Center in Richmond Heights to treat abdominal pain the day he died. An autopsy found his large and small intestines were filled with blood and clots, but could not find lesions or a source of the blood.

Childrey said after Shy’s death that he had received high-quality medical treatment at the jail. But a source later told the Post-Dispatch that the jail’s internal investigation was focusing on whether jail staffers disabled inmates’ call buttons in the infirmary while he writhed in pain for hours, crying and screaming for help, and have asked why a nurse who peered into Shy’s cell and saw blood pooled and smeared around him told Shy to clean his cell and take a shower rather than helping him.

Clayton police said they did not seek criminal charges issued in the Jan. 18 death of inmate Larry “Jay” Reavis, which the medical examiner said was caused by chronic alcohol abuse. They said they were still investigating circumstances behind the March 1 death of Lamar Catchings, who had never been diagnosed for what the medical examiner said was a highly curable form of leukemia.

Doyle’s career in law enforcement spans nearly 30 years. He has served in investigative, supervisory and command-level positions in all facets of policing.

He is currently the division commander for special operations. During Doyle’s detachment, Capt. Gerald Lohr will serve as the commander of the division of special operations.

Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Jeremy Kohler is an investigative reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.