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Suspect in 1988 murder of Miriam Rice dies in jail

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit has identified the inmate discovered dead late Saturday night inside the county jail as 77-year-old George Kearney.

Emergency medical technicians were called to the jail around 11:56 p.m. after Kearney was found unresponsive. They did not perform any life saving measures, because Kearney had recently signed a Do Not Resuscitate order with the medical staff. He was pronounced dead at 12:05 a.m. Sunday morning.

According to jail medical staff, Kearney had been suffering from a terminal illness and his condition had worsened in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Kearney pleaded guilty to the 1988 murder of 28-year-old Miriam Rice, who was pregnant at the time of her death. The case had gone cold for 20 years, before detectives finally got a break leading them to Kearney.

He was set to be sentenced later this week. 

The St. Joseph County Coroner's Office has ordered an autopsy per protocol. It will take place Monday at 10:30 a.m. in Ft. Wayne. 

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