The Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office has released the cause of death for Billy Dunford, who was arrested at the Max Meadows Post Office Nov. 4 and died 10 days later at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Dunford, 57, died of a pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and a bacterial infection due to complications of a recent left hip fracture, chronic alcoholism and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The manner of death is listed as undetermined, according to the death certificate.
Prior to the release of the death certificate, Wythe County Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Jones requested that the Virginia State Police investigate the circumstances surrounding Dunford’s death. According to Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne Geller, the police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Wytheville Field Office initiated an investigation on Dec. 11. The investigation is ongoing, she said Monday.
Jones said he asked for the probe at the request of Dunford’s family, who has questioned whether Dunford’s arrest contributed to his death.
The unofficial “Mayor of Max Meadows,” Dunford was well-known in town and a fixture at the local convenience store, where customers often bought him beer and cigarettes.
A Wythe County sheriff’s deputy arrested Dunford at the post office on Nov. 4. The previous day, after receiving reports of someone defecating in the post office lobby, the deputy had told Dunford to stay away from the post office.
In his incident report, Deputy Zack Puckett said he suspected Dunford was going to run so he used a one-step technique to take him down. According to the report, Dunford was taken to the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office, where the Wythe County Rescue Squad checked him out.
Puckett then took Dunford before a magistrate and obtained warrants for trespassing and obstruction of justice. Dunford was then transported to the New River Valley Jail.
According to jail Superintendent Gregory Winston, Dunford entered the jail at 7:12 a.m. He was released from jail on bond at 6:59 p.m. Winston said Dunford was offered medical services when he arrived and around lunchtime. He could not provide specifics about any medical treatment because health information about inmates is protected.
Dunford’s family members said when they picked him up from the New River Valley Jail, he was injured and could not walk. Less than 48 hours later, Dunford was admitted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where he died on Nov. 14.
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