New City – In a rare case for Rockland corrections, Orangetown resident Francis Donnelly hanged himself in his jail cell on Sunday afternoon. Sheriff Louis Falco said Donnelly, who was arrested in September on robbery and weapons charges, had been processed in the standard fashion at the jail, going through screening for mental illness and submitting to a weeklong suicide watch before his release into general population where the suicide occurred.
Originally, Donnelly had been placed in jail for allegedly robbing a man in Tappan’s Joseph Clarke Rails to Trails Park. Donnelly was said to have knocked the man off his bike and held him at gunpoint, but was caught in a struggle with his intended victim and fled the scene when the gun went off during the scuffle.
Before his arrest, friends and family said Donnelly was a friendly, good-natured man and boxed with the Piermont PAL program, even participating in the New York Daily News’ Golden Gloves Tournament. Donnelly is survived by his parents and two brothers.
Donnelly is the third death from suicide in the Rockland County Jail since its opening. Before him, the most recent case was Nathan Patnode, a Vermont man arrested on drug charges who also hung himself.