Election Section

92-year-old jumps to his death after he is released from jail

Friday July 12, 2002

Former inmate’s health was poor  


OROVILLE — An ailing, 92-year-old man who had pleaded to be allowed to stay in jail jumped to his death from a bridge less than two weeks after he was released. 

The body of Coval Russell was found Wednesday under a 40-foot bridge over the Feather River. Officials believe he may have been California’s oldest county jail inmate. 

Russell had served 14 months while waiting for sentencing on an assault charge for stabbing his landlord. He was put on three years’ probation and released from the Butte County Jail on June 26. 

A judge had denied his request to stay in jail, saying that it was not an appropriate place for a man of Russell’s age and health. 

“He was in constant pain, and he was running out of living options,” said Jim Pihl, a private investigator who talked to Russell by phone on Tuesday. 

The World War II veteran had received four types of medication in jail, was blind in one eye, suffered from prostate cancer and could barely walk several feet unassisted, Pihl said. 

“I know he felt like he didn’t have any other place to go,” Pihl said.