The inmate found dead hours after he was named a person of interest in a decades-old disappearance hanged himself, officials say.
Fernando Asturizaga, 51, was declared a "person of interest" last week in the 2000 disappearance of Alison Thresher. Thresher was a copy editor at The Washington Post, and Asturizaga babysat her daughter.
Asturizaga was serving more than 100 years in prison for sexually abusing Thresher's daughter, Hannah, when police announced he was a suspect.
Gerry Shields, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, says Asturizaga was found hours later unresponsive in his cell and was pronounced dead.
The state medical examiner's office ruled Thursday his death was a "suicide by hanging."
Thresher, 45, disappeared from her Bethesda apartment in the 4500 block of Sangamore Lane in May 2000. The Washington Post copy editor's car was found the next day, about a mile away near the C & O Canal trail.
Her body was never found.
In 1999, Thresher was in the middle of a contentious divorce and was concerned about grooming behavior Asturizaga was exhibiting toward her daughter, Hannah Thresher, police said Thursday. Asturizaga was her daughter's Spanish teacher, and Alison Thresher's ex-husband employed him as a babysitter for their children.
Alison Thresher wrote letters to Asturizaga, her daughter's school and her attorney voicing her concern about the "inappropriate relationship" between Asturizaga and her daughter, police say.
Despite her concerns, Asturizaga was still allowed to babysit her children when they were in her ex-husband's custody.
In February 2000, Alison Thresher got into an altercation with Asturizaga outside her ex-husband's home about his continued contact with Hannah Thresher, police say.
Alison Thresher was last seen May 23, 2000, after having dinner with her parents.
She had been scheduled to start a new job with The Washington Post the next day, but early that morning, a neighbor reported hearing cries coming from her apartment.
A short time later, a man was seen running through the neighborhood where her car would later be found.
"A few months later, when I expressed frustration at his lack of empathy towards my grief over the loss of my mother, FA [Fernando Asturizaga] said to me: 'I thought things would be easier for us now that she's gone,'" Hannah Thresher said during a news conference last week.
In 2010, Hannah Thresher told police about the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of Asturizaga from 1999 until 2001. When the abuse began, Asturizaga was 32 years old; Hannah Thresher was 10.
Asturizaga was convicted on multiple counts of child abuse and rape and was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison in 2012.
He refused to talk to police about Alison Thresher's disappearance after his arrest.
"That man was by definition a sociopath. He was almost a professional at infiltrating groups of people, schools, especially anywhere with a child," Alison Thatcher's son, Sam Thresher, said.
Sam Thresher, now 28, said he has a service dog because of the trauma he experienced after his mother's death.
The lead detective in Hannah Thresher's case was later transferred to the cold case unit and asked to reopen the investigation into Alison Thresher's death in 2016.
Based on recent DNA analysis, police now believe Alison Thresher was murdered inside her apartment and that her body was taken to an unknown location. Police say the suspect tried to destroy evidence at the scene.
Police say the investigation into Alison Thresher's disappearance and death is ongoing. No additional details about the case will be released at this time.
Anyone with information about her death is asked to call police at 240-773-5070.