NE Minn. man dies by suicide at jail after rape conviction
John Gregory Maio, 60, faced a prison term potentially as lengthy as a life sentence
DULUTH — A Brookston man who was convicted of rape last week died early Thursday, nearly a week after a suicide attempt at the St. Louis County Jail.
John Gregory Maio, 60, died at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth at approximately 2:30 a.m., according to Sheriff Gordon Ramsay. Gail Mularie, the mother of Maio's children, said he had been taken off life support after he was found unresponsive in his jail cell Friday.
"They should've had him on suicide watch," Mularie said. "They should've done something. They knew he was going to prison for up to 30 years, and they should've been watching him."
Ramsay, though, said there hadn't been any concerns raised about Maio's mental health and that he requested to be in general population. He said staff immediately began lifesaving efforts and called 911.
"We will be conducting a review of the incident and we notified the Minnesota Department of Corrections immediately after he was found," Ramsay told the News Tribune. "This has been a difficult and sad time for our staff. Our hearts go out to them, as well as the family of John Maio."
Maio was found guilty March 7 of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, along with making threats of violence, in the Dec. 20, 2018, assault at his home along County Highway 31. He had been free on bond since 2019, shortly after he was first charged, but Judge Eric Hylden ordered him into custody pending sentencing.
With Maio having an extensive criminal history and his top conviction carrying up to 30 years, it was expected he could face what would essentially amount to a life sentence.
Ramsay confirmed that the inmate was found hanging during a routine wellbeing check at approximately 9:30 a.m. Friday, less than three days after he was convicted. Mularie said she was told staff had been conducting regular 20-minute checks and that Maio was up and moving around before he was found unresponsive and not breathing.
She said staff took him down and tried to revive him but his heart was stopped and took about 20 minutes to get going again, likely leaving him with severe brain damage.
Ramsay said inmates are asked whether they are suicidal and are screened for potential signs that could place them under a more-intensive watch schedule.
"He had no concerning actions or behavior," the sheriff said. "He was sleeping and eating normally."
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline:24/7 hotline: 800-656-4673
- Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA):serves Duluth, Superior and Ashland, Bayfield and Douglas counties; 24/7 hotline 800-649-2921; submit a help request at casda.org/get-help
- Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA):serves southern St. Louis County; 24/7 hotline 218-726-1931
- Sexual Assault Program of Northern St. Louis County:serves northern St. Louis County; 24/7 hotline 800-300-3102
- Family Pathways:serves Carlton and Pine counties; 24/7 hotline 800-338-7233
- Support Within Reach:serves Aitkin and Itasca counties; hotline 866-747-5008
- North Shore Horizons:serves Lake County; 24/7 hotline 218-834-5924
- Violence Prevention Center:serves Cook County; 24/7 hotline 218-387-1237
- Friends Against Abuse:serves Koochiching County; 24/7 hotline 888-344-3264
- Fond du Lac Reservation:24/7 hotline 218-348-1817
- Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:Grand Portage Human Services 218-475-2453
- Bois Forte Tribal Government–Victim Services Program:emergency cell 218-248-0067
Maio had been found guilty of raping a woman who had been housesitting for him. A criminal complaint states that he returned home and was angry that she had her boyfriend at the residence. The boyfriend left the house and waited down the road so the woman could collect her personal belongings.
The victim told investigators that Maio then displayed an apparent handgun, placed it on a bedside table and proceeded to rape her. She confirmed that she felt threatened by the weapon and the possibility that Maio would use it.
The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at the home and seized an airsoft gun that was hidden in the kitchen behind some boxes of cereal, the complaint states. In an interview, Maio allegedly stated he had engaged in sexual intercourse with the woman in the past but said nothing had occurred that day.
The complaint states that he later told a jail visitor that he was angry about the victim's boyfriend being present and confirmed that he grabbed the gun and "made sure she saw it."
Defense attorney K. Scott Belfry argued the sexual conduct was consensual. But the 12-member jury rejected that argument, finding Maio guilty of all three counts.
The verdict came more than four years after Maio was first charged, with records indicating the case has weathered delays related to attorney changes, the pandemic and litigation regarding the admissibility of evidence at trial.
Assistant St. Louis County Michael Hagley filed a formal notice of dismissal Thursday and confirmed to the News Tribune that he received news of Maio's death, but did not otherwise comment. Belfry did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Mularie, who now lives in Florida, said she left Maio some 40 years ago as he was dealing with severe drug addiction, but he remained close with family members.
"I'm not worried about me, because I had little to do with him for 40 years, but I'm worried about my children and grandchildren," she said. "I want the truth to be out there about what happened."
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text MN to 741741
- More Lifeline resources: speakingofsuicide.com/resources
- South St. Louis, Lake, Cook and Carlton counties/Fond du Lac Band: 218-623-1800 or 844-772-4742
- North St. Louis County/Bois Forte Band: 218-288-2100
- Itasca County: 218-326-8565 or 211*
- Koochiching County: 800-442-8565 or 211*
*St. Louis County 211 services are not crisis-related