Inmate’s suicide probed; lawyer says meds were discontinued


FALLS CHURCH, Va. — A northern Virginia inmate awaiting sentencing on federal bank robbery charges killed himself after jailers discontinued his psychotropic medication, according to his lawyer.

Christopher Lapp, 62, was an inmate at the Alexandria jail, which routinely holds inmates as they await trial and sentencing at the nearby federal courthouse.

Lapp died Tuesday night at Inova Hospital, according to a release Wednesday from the Alexandria Sheriff’s Department. He was found unresponsive in his cell early Tuesday morning after a suicide attempt.

The death is under investigation by both the sheriff’s department and the Alexandria Police Department.

Court records show Lapp had a history of mental health problems. He was initially found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to the federal medical hospital in Butner, North Carolina, for treatment.

The treatment, including medication, restored his competency, and he was returned to the Alexandria jail to stand trial.

In a court motion filed after Lapp’s death, defense lawyer Joseph Flood said that when Lapp was returned to the Alexandria jail, β€œa staff clinician opined Lapp was not mentally ill and discontinued his medication.”

Lapp pleaded guilty at the hearing in April, where Flood raised concerns about his client’s mental health. Judge T.S. Ellis ordered that Lapp be sent to Butner to resume treatment there, but Lapp was never transferred. Butner officials said they don’t accept inmates before they are sentenced unless they require a court-ordered evaluation.

Jail officials declined to comment on Lapp’s death beyond the news release issued Wednesday. Flood said Lapp’s family did not want to comment.

Lapp lived in a wealthy Great Falls neighborhood and owned a $1.3 million home there at the time of his arrest. Prosecutors said in court papers that Lapp’s cellphone records showed he had multiple romantic interests, including a Playboy model, and that β€œhe was working to keep his romantic love interests happy with additional money.”

His father, Ralph Lapp, was a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project.

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