James Greer Jr.
James Greer Jr.

An alleged killer charged in a Dauphin County homicide was found dead in his York County Prison cell Tuesday morning, according to York County Coroner Barry Bloss.

When 28-year-old James Earl Greer Jr. was found unresponsive about 3 a.m., prison staff called for medical personnel, who performed CPR on the man but could not revive him, York County spokesman Carl Lindquist said.

He was pronounced dead at the prison, Bloss said.

The coroner said it's not known what caused Greer's death, and it's hoped an autopsy Thursday morning at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital will determine the cause.

Bloss said there was no immediately observable physical trauma to Greer's body, but said that can't be ruled out until the autopsy.

Greer was being held in York County Prison at the request of Dauphin County officials, Lindquist said.

State police are investigating.

Greer was charged with homicide for allegedly strangling former girlfriend Heather Bechtel, 32, in her Lower Paxton Township home on Dec. 7.

Lower Paxton Township Police said that after Greer killed Bechtel, he called several people from her home, where he used to live before they split up. Those people called 911 and responding officers found Greer still in the Rawleigh Street home.

Greer told responding officers he had swallowed some cleaning solutions in what police described as a possible suicide attempt and he was taken to an area hospital before being arraigned on his homicide charge, police said.

Greer was being held in York County Prison because someone either related to or associated with Bechtel works at the Dauphin County Prison, police said.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.