WASHINGTON — The convicted child sex abuser found dead in his jail cell hours after being named in the 2000 disappearance and death of his victim’s mother died by suicide, WTOP has learned.
The autopsy conducted by Maryland’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found Fernando Asturizaga, 51, hanged himself, according to Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
On April 12, Asturizaga was identified by Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger as a person of interest in the case of Alison Thresher, who vanished 18 years ago. Asturizaga was serving a nearly 170-year prison sentence for sexually abusing Thresher’s daughter Hannah over several years, starting in 1999.
About 11 hours after being identified in Thresher’s death, Asturizaga was found dead in his cell at the Western Correctional Institution, in Cumberland, Maryland.
Sources said it was not clear whether Asturizaga was aware or been officially informed he had been named as a person of interest at the time he died.
Manger said Asturizaga had refused to discuss Thresher’s disappearance with investigators.
Asturizaga taught Hannah at the Friendship Community School, and sometimes worked as a baby sitter for Hannah, who at the time was in fourth grade, and her younger brother, Sam.
In 1999, Thresher began to raise concerns about what she called an inappropriate relationship between her daughter and Asturizaga, who began sitting for the children while the Threshers were in the process of getting divorced.
In a statement, Gerard Shields, of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said “investigators are still reviewing the circumstances of Asturizaga’s death but have ruled out foul play.”
Asturizaga was found unresponsive by prison personnel.
“Preliminary findings also indicate that department employees were not negligent in performing their duties,” Shields said.
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