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An inmate suspected in a Rowan County killing has died after being found unresponsive in his cell, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office reported

A news release stated James Christopher Rife, 36, was given his breakfast tray shortly before 8 a.m. in his single cell.

He talked briefly with the detention officer that handed him the food, and spoke with them again when the officer checked on Rife to see if he was done with his tray, the release stated.

The agency said detention officers were notified sometime after 8 a.m. by other inmates that Rife seemed to be slumped over in a seated position in his cell and was not responding.

Rowan County 911 was called, as was detention staff and the on-duty nurse and they immediately began CPR on Rife, authorities said.

Salisbury Fire Department and Rowan EMS were also dispatched to the Detention Center.

The sheriff’s office said it had been determined Rife had died after lifesaving efforts were deemed unsuccessful. They added there were no signs of trauma or foul play found in his cell or any available video footage.

Rife had been in the Rowan County Detention Center since early February on charges of murder and attempted robbery with a weapon, authorities said. Rife was accused of killing a Davidson woman, Lakyn Jade Bailey.

Rife was arrested Feb. 1 after he was identified as a second suspect in the shooting death of Bailey.

Rife was apprehended on unrelated charges earlier in the investigation when he was named a person of interest, Rowan authorities said.

Authorities also arrested Joshua Wade Kennedy on Jan. 30 after he was named as a suspect by agents with the State Bureau of Investigation, an earlier news release stated.

The sheriff’s office reported that Kennedy, 35, is a registered sex offender who had been living in Rowan and Iredell counties.

Both Kennedy and Rife were charged with murder and attempted robbery at the time of their arrests.

On Jan. 27, Bailey was found shot to death inside a parked car at the Country Cupboard Store on Statesville Boulevard, west of Salisbury, around 1:30 a.m.

Deputies responded to the scene and after investigating suspected that the shooting occurred on Apple Road, near Burmac Circle off Woodleaf Road, nearly 3 miles from where Bailey’s body was located.

Bailey would have turned 26 on Jan. 28.

A Jan. 28 news release said that Bailey traveled from a motel in Statesville to Rowan County the morning of her death.

Authorities reported the shooting as a likely result of a methamphetamine sale that became violent.

On Jan. 29, Jason Donald Cranfill of Statesville was arrested and charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. Deputies said that Cranfill, 41, drove Bailey to the Country Cupboard store in his car after she was shot.

At the time, authorities did not clarify if the possession charge was related to the investigation.

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