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Brunswick County inmate dies after altercation

BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- A Brunswick County jail inmate has died. Sheriff Ron Hewett says Senaca Vaught attacked two detention officers who sprayed him with mace before tackling him to the floor. Vaught died as a result of the altercation. Autopsy results have not yet been released to determine the cause of death. Vaught's aunt Sheila called NewsChannel 3 this morning, however, and said Vaught had breathing problems. Waught was awaiting trial for assaulting his mother on Christmas day. One of the officers involved was injured and taken to the hospital.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



For those who did not kown Seneca should not make dum-ass remarks,when you want a dream to come TRUE just think about HIS MOTHER and family whom has to deal with lost of there love one each and ever day.SO PLEASE BE MORE UNDERSTADING.(JUST KEEPING IT REAL!!!!!!)


Senaca was 32 years old and had been treated by mental health facilities for the last 10 years. His most recent commitment was involuntary because if you know anything about people with mental health problems they do not think they have one. He would not go on his own and because he was over the age of 21 he could not even be forced to take prescribe medications. The Brunswick County Sheriff's department had been called to the home so much they practically knew Senaca and most of his relatives. He always talked well with them and they said he was not a threat to himself or anyone else and left. Each time involuntary commitment paperwork were done and the sheriff's department picked him up took him to the hospital in Supply and then on to Wilmington and few times he was sent to Cherry Hospital in Raleigh. He was release by a Judge just two weeks prior to the incident with his mother, the judge said he was competent and was not a threat to himself or others. Well the Judge was wrong. I do not know who all of you are but you must also remember that Senaca was a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, grandson, and a friend a person (HUMAN BEING) not a inanimate object, we have feelings and are blaming no one. What if it were your child, would you not have questions. Maybe this would have all turned out differently had the courts awarded his mother guardianship over him instead of ruling that Senaca was competent. There are always two sides to every story so do not be so eager to write things when you do not know all the circumstances. If you Pray, Pray for the family instead of making a mockery of this tragic event. Thank You

It wasn't his fault.

Mr. Vaught didn't do anything wrong. He just didn't want to take a shower just because the inmates had picked on him in the shower. The guards had tried to force him to take a shower when he didn't want to. When he started to get angry. . .the guards had started spraying the pepper spray in his face. They had sprayed it in his mouth and nose. Mr. Vault couldn't breath and that was what had caused his heart attack. This guards in Brunswick County takes things the wrong way. These guards should be fired and put to justice for their crime. I know this for a fact because my husband was there when the scene happened.

This Comes to Mind

In 1998 Forest Lewis was shot in the back by Henderson Gore in Gore's place of business near Ash. There was a witness. Land that was not even secured nor worth the bond was allowed to get Gore released. Gore spent one night (if that) in jail for his crime. A psychologist came down from Raleigh and, in a 45 minute session on Gore's front porch with Gore's wife present, concluded that Gore was unable mentally to stand trial. No procedures for treating him to get him mentally fit was ever done - doing so is state mandated supposedly. Hewett later remanded Gore to his own house in lieu of jailing him, saying that it was cheaper to keep him at home where he could receive all the medications he needed rather than have the state have to look after him. The tracking device he was to wear at all times was once left off for over 5 months when he went to Brunswick Hospital for a test. Henderson Gore died seven years or so later without ever having to answer for his crime. What has that to do with this? Well, for one thing, Gore was related through marriage to - Ron Hewett. Second, a psychologist was brought to test him - right to his own doorstep. Third, he killed a man in front of another person. Four, he was white. Anybody see a decrepancy here? First, to anyone suggesting that you can merely call 'someone' and get someone put into a mental hospital or facility because they beat you up, learn how the system works in this state. It is not easy to get someone committed. Second, if rules can be bent for a murderer, surely something could have been done to expedite matters in the case of this large black man - should someone have wanted to do so - but, then, he wasn't a Hewett relative. Third, the people on duty probably did only what they could, under the circumstances do, so they are not the problem. What I want to know is why some people get treated one way and others get treated another? The Forest Lewis family deserved a lot better than what they got. And, by the way, I am NOT a member of their family nor related to them in any way. I am just a Brunswick County citizen tired of seeing clearly how business is done. Can you folks not stop blindly berating those who question Ron Hewett no matter what and look at what does go on? Cases such as the Lewis murder stink to high heaven.

Mental health and the jail

Now as a professional in the MH field I can tell you that if Mr. Vaught's family thought that he was a threat to himself or others, then involuntary committment papers can be drawn at the local magistrates office. I blame in part the family, why...because we do have a mental health center (Southeastern Center for MH/DD/SAS) that has a crisis unit that could possibly respond to any of Mr. Vaught's schizophrenia. Second, if a person is in jail and is reviewed as a threat or needs treatment, certain protocol must be followed. If I am not mistaken, he was scheduled to go to Raleigh (yes Central Prison) to be evaluated. That is where all inmates are evaluated by a licensed psychologist. And does take time to schedule an inmate for a detailed evaluation. Sorry folks, that's life. We have to wait for certain evaluations and test to be performed. No one that I know is scheduled for a test (i.e. bloodwork, labwork, etc...) just the next day or even week. Most appointments are handled in four to six weeks. I am sorry that Mr. Vaught lost his life. It is tragic although yet another sad reminder to us that no one (including our government agencies and Mr. Vaught) are perfect. Sheriff Hewett handled this matter in a professional and caring manner. Kudo's to him.

Ron Hewetts role in Mr. Vaughts Death

Dear Guest in Whiteville, How dare you blame the family. The officers that arrested him could have told them the procedure right? So any family that does not know the system deserves to have their relative killed...your not a professional anything except a professional Hewett lover. Prisoners are not property, they are human. Granted they broke the law, but we are not animals and neither are they. This county needs to wake the heck up about our law enforcement. Just look at the front page of last weeks beacon to know that our county is in big trouble. Look at the last year with law enforcement and add it up..HEWETT IS A CRIMINAL, GAUSE IS A CRIMINAL, AND ALL THOSE BELOW THEM WHO COMMITTED CRIMES AND GOT AWAY WITH IT. OH, AND THEIR CHILDREN..ARE CRIMINALS

No ones fault

I'm sorry but I don't see how you are trying to put the blame on the officers that arrested him. They are not licensed to tell if someone is sick in the head. That is a completely different profession. The officers duties are to get the bad guys off the streets. His family should have been more aware of what was going on with him and I am pretty sure that all the had to do was go to the complex and ask for help. And as far as your comment of the sheriff & his children being criminals.... it's funny how the "criminals" are still on duty & in uniform... no crimes have been committed. Just a family who's trying to put the blame on someone else other than themselves.

How dare you blame LEO

How dare we blame the family? Well, how dare you blame LEO??? They were doing their job. If the family wanted this man in a mental facility they should have put them there. From their comments alone, they stated he belonged in a menatal hospital and not in jail. If that's the case then why didn't they put him in one? They probably figured that if he was arrested and they gave him a mental eval, they would determine he needed to go to a mental facility and the state would pay for it instead of the family

Ron Hewetts role in Mr. Vaughts Death

Dear Guest from Brunswick, You sure seem to know an awful lot about the criminals in Brunswick County. I happen to know Mr. Hewitt and I am very close friends with Rodney. Last time I checked neither one of them have been convicted of any crime. Granted there is a black cloud hanging over Sheriff Hewitt but until he is convicted of something why don't you people in BC give him the benefit of the doubt. Do you have children? What makes their children any more of criminals than your? I think that was a STUPID comment you made.

Looking back

I think this is the funniest comment I've read in quite a while. Funny how things change....


Sure am glad I don't live accross the river , sounds like everyone is a criminal over there.

Social skills needed

Maybe if someone had whipped his tail before he got to the Hewett Hilton, he wouldn't have showed out while he was there. Personally, I think the worst thing that happened to Law Enforcement was taking away the "convoy" or "slapjacks" that were carried in the 70's. A little leather wrapped lead goes a long way to creating some respect for the Po-Po. "The last thing I remember was talking smack to the police, then I woke up in jail" is the way to go. Detention Centers should be more like "Cool Hand Luke" than some supermax holding cell anyhow. Twelve hours of making little rocks out of big rocks takes the fight out of someone too. Some folks, you just can't reach.

jail altercation

you know a family member stated that he should not have even been in jail, but in a hospital. dont blame the tax payers, if the family knew he had mental issues than they should have already put him in one instead of bashing the county for doing their job after they were attacked. if he was in a hospital or institution, he would not have been there to attack the mother and be in jail. i think the sheriffs dept did nothing wrong.

Shouldn't be in jail?

Who called 911 in the first place? Who accused him of the assault on his mother? If the family didn't think he should've been in jail for beating his mother, why didn't they bond him out instead of leaving him in jail all this time? If he needed mental help, why didn't they commit him? If the truth was known, they wanted him anywhere so they didn't have to deal with him. Now they have dollar signs popping up in their eyes. Old Senaca may have done something good for the family after all.

Wrongful death my butt

Here we go with the Sheriff bashing again. So let me get this right from all you professional investigators here. You claim its the Sheriff's fault the inmate beat his mother. Its the Sheriff's fault that the arresting officers and the detention staff are not trained metal-patient doctors. And its the Sheriff's fault that the inmates family didn't have him committed to mental health hospital. So I guess its the Sheriffs fault that the inmate took it upon himself to attack officers in a attempt to escape and ended up getting pepper sprayed in the end which led to his death. And it is also the Sheriff's fault the Detention Staff did their job. So this make the Sheriff a criminal?

Inmate Death

My husband is a CO and I am sorry. But when you are put in a positions where a very large man goes after you are gonna sit there and take a beating, let your partner get beat. Or, ar eyou gonna fight back? That man could have killed those officers. They did the right thing. If it were my husband I know he would have done the same thing it is SOP (Standard Operations Procedure). Guide lines you follow, to insure you go home alive and safe when your shift is over.And it is there to keep dangerous people like this man in order while locked up.

Inmate Death

Now before everyone starts to crucify the sheriff, let's wait on the autopsy results. I am police officer but I am no fan of the sheriff. From what was reported, this was a 650 pound inmate who became irate for whatever reason. One jailer was punched and another headbutted. He was peppersprayed and fell to the floor. Everyone needs to keep one phrase in mind; positional asphyxiation. Pepper spray makes it hard to breath for some people and a person of his size would have trouble breathing while laying down anyway. However tragic this may be, let's not point the finger until the OUTSIDE investigation is over. The SBI has to investigate any and all inmate deaths in NC. Everyone needs to keep the family of the deceased and the jailers involved in their prayers.

Brunswick county inmate death

I am not shocked by this. The sheriff department in Brunswick county has been beating inmates up for years. Alot of times they will beat them upon there arrest and claim they resisted (hard to do in handcuffs). Ronald Hewett was suppose to be so great but now everyone will learn that under his watch the criminals where the ones with badges. Tv 3 should start interviewing some former deputies if you want to learn the truth.

Prisoner Bashing

As far as for the det. officers beating prisoners, folks thats a lie! I guess if this disgruntled person would have behaved himself he would have been just fine. As far as for interviewing former deputies, in most cases you might wonder why thier status is former and not current.

I agree with you. I'm not

I agree with you. I'm not shocked either. I personally know two people who have been beaten up for no reason. Ronald Hewett thinks he is so great but the public will soon learn the real truth about him. He is not for this community because if he was he wouldnt let the drug dealers and other go free. He knows where its coming from but he's making money too so he dont want to rat them out.

Beaten up for no

Beaten up for no reason...Sorry, I don't believe you. Your two "buddies" probably told you they were just sitting at the table minding their own business when a guard came up from behind them and started beating on them. Give it a rest. I bet your two buddies that were arrested said they were innocent also, and you believe them then as well. Maybe you should find some new buddies

The Wrongful Death Of Mr. Vaught

I hope that something is done about this. This man should have not even been in a jail to begin with. This is just another example of how the system is failing the people...He had a mental problem, something that he was not even born with. It was a result of violence. So basically he goes crazy and gets killed, for it.

To Sunset Beach

First of all, yes, he should have been in jail. He assaulted his mother and as a result was taken to jail. You can't just go around beating people up, and expect no consequences. Also, if his mother knew that he had a mental disability she should have had him in a treatment facility, or if he knew, he should have had himself in one. The basic point is, that he had an altercation with his mother and was taken to jail. While in jail he went after two officers, they have to protect themselves and do their job. Mr. Vaught is the one to blame. He put himself in that kind of position, and in the end payed the consequence. I'm not saying he deserved to die in any way, but he did bring it upon himself.

Unsettling Beach

Like what oh wise one? He wound up right where it sounds like his toxic life led him. His death was a result of his bad choices, no more no less. The system is failing? Oh give it a rest.... people MUST be responsible for themselves or the family memebers have to be the first line. It sounds like his mother failed him first by not seeing to having him committed if she knew he had a problem. People like you whine when the system steps in and when they don't depending on your daily agenda. It's not "the systems" job to babysit!

Sunset Beach, you can't be

Sunset Beach, you can't be serious.... if this man belonged in a mental facility like his mother says he should, then why did she not have him in one the day he assaulted her? Maybe it was so that when he went to jail they could have place him in a mental hospital and the mother wouldn't have had to pay for it. This man died because of his own actions. Don't blame LEO for doing their job and protecting themselves

Wrongful death..

This man was arrested for assulting his mother. His mother!!!!! Sounds like one mean sun of a gun!!!

Sou your point is....

...that if he goes crazy and starts attacking officers, they shouldn't fight back? Let's be totally honest here - the autopsy will likely conclude that the decedent's own morbid obesity will have contributed to his death. There are literally hundreds of these cases nationwide, wherein extremely overweight suspects fight with police or corrections officers, and the ol' ticker just goes pop!

He didn't belong in jail??!?


First off, he was not

First off, he was not killed. He died as a result of a defensive tactic used by law enforcement. Him dying was not the result that the officers were going for. Pepper spray is used to disable you and not allow you to see so that the officers can get the situation under control. I have been sprayed with it, it burns. That's what it's made to do. It is not the officers fault that he is in jail. He is the one that assaulted his mother. If his family was concerned about his mental stability, they should have had him committed to a mental facility for an evaluation. The system did not fail this man, his family did for not getting him the treatment that he needed.

This is just one more for

This is just one more for thing to look at for the SBI and FBI! Tune in tomorrow for the saga of the Sheriff of Hooterville!