Bledsoe County deputies picked Christopher Axmacher up near the Sequatchie County line Friday night to serve 48 hours at the county detention center on a drug manufacturing sentence.
He didn't make it through the night at the Pikeville facility.
Corrections officers found Axmacher, 33, unresponsive Saturday morning when they came to serve breakfast, the cause of his death a mystery that has prompted a closer look by state agents.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating Axmacher's death at the request of 12th Judicial District Attorney Mike Taylor, the TBI and Taylor confirmed Sunday.
"What I do in these smaller departments that don't have internal affairs divisions, when they have an in-custody death like this, it's just standard procedure to call the TBI to investigate the death and coordinate everything, and that's what we did in this case," Taylor said. "It's not that we have suspicion that there was foul play or anything like that involved. It's just always been our protocol to do that."
Axmacher's body will be taken to Nashville for an autopsy. Taylor said he expects to receive a complete report on the case in several weeks.
"Then, if it turns out that there was some foul play or criminal activity, of course we'll proceed from there," Taylor said. "Otherwise, if it appears to be a natural death, the case will be closed as far as my office is concerned."
The 96-bed Bledsoe County Detention Center opened in 2011, replacing an 1800s-era jail. The $7.4 million facility is located on Allan Deakins Road in Pikeville, about 15 miles from the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, which is a 450-bed state facility north of Pikeville.
Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris said the detention center is generally near capacity with 90 or more inmates.
"When you have as many inmates as we do, it's possible for one to pass away," Morris said Sunday. "It's a bad thing. We sure don't want to lose an inmate. That's the first one we've lost."
Attempts to reach Axmacher's family were unsuccessful Sunday.
Contact staff writer David Cobb at email@example.com or 423-757-6249.