The FBI is investigating the death of Yaron Segal, the MIT researcher who was found dead in jail while awaiting federal charges of traveling to engage with sex with minors.
Segal’s death is being investigated as an apparent suicide after he was found in hanging in his cell, according to John Sell, executive assistant of the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood.
Segal, 30, had been facing federal charges stemming from his alleged attempt to have sex with a mother and her two young daughters in Colorado. Segal had actually been conversing with an undercover federal agent and was arrested when he arrived in Colorado.
Segal, who was an Israeli citizen, was arrested by by U.S. Immigration and Customs agents and charged with aggravated sexual abuse of children, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and attempted coercion and enticement. If convicted Segal faces a potential prison term of 30 years to life.
According to the arrest affidavit Segal started conversing with the undercover ICE agent in February in chat rooms that referenced child rape, torture, brutality and children as sex slaves. In addition, Segal allegedly sent explicit photos and video of himself.
ICE investigators traced the email handle “ruthlessmale” from New Haven, Conn., to Cambridge, Mass., and then to Segal.
Segal was a postdoctoral associate at the department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. According to the Associated Press, Tonio Buonassisi, the principal investigator of Segal’s lab, submitted a letter to the U.S. District Court that Segal was well regarded and that he had closely mentored five graduate students.
Buonassisi did not immediately respond to calls and MIT declined to comment on the case.