DETROIT — A federal prosecutor from Florida who authorities say flew to Michigan for an expected sexual encounter with a 5-year-old girl tried to hang himself in his jail cell Thursday but was stopped from harming himself, a sheriff said.
It happened only 36 hours after a U.S. magistrate lifted a suicide watch for John D.R. Atchison, which was put in effect out of concern he might harm himself. Atchison assured U.S. Magistrate Virginia M. Morgan at a hearing Tuesday afternoon that he would not do so.
Atchison, 53, used a sheet in an attempted hanging about 4 a.m., Sanilac County Sheriff Virgil Strickler said.
Another inmate yelled out to jailers, who kept Atchison from hurting himself, Strickler said.
The 119-bed Sanilac County Jail is in Sandusky, about 75 miles north of Detroit, and U.S. marshals sometimes use it to house federal prisoners. Marshals moved him after the suicide attempt, the sheriff said.
"We called the marshals office and told them what had happened, and they said, `OK, we'll come and get him,"' Strickler said. Atchison's destination was not known.
Atchison, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., is an assistant U.S. attorney in northern Florida, based in Pensacola. He also is president of a youth sports association in his hometown.