BRENTWOOD — A Methuen native arrested in Salem, New Hampshire, last week was found dead in a cell at Rockingham County Jail the following morning, according to officials and the man’s loved ones.
Mark Zraket, 54, was taken into police custody late Thursday, April 29, records show. He was accused of stealing a car from the LaQuinta hotel, robbing a bank in Medford, Massachusetts, and returning to the hotel to try to rent a room.
Police also said Zraket had crack cocaine on him at the time.
His obituary posted online by a Windham funeral home says Zraket died Friday, April 30, in Brentwood. He was scheduled to be arraigned that afternoon at the county courthouse in town, according to police.
Lifelong friend Jim Garrity, now a lieutenant for the Methuen Fire Department, is named in the remembrance alongside Zraket’s sister, Tracy Solimine of Amesbury.
He says the two are grappling with unanswered questions about what happened to their friend and brother.
“Everyone deserves due process,” he said. “You’d think that since he had been processed and was in his cell there was nothing (dangerous) on him.”
According to Garrity, officials have not provided specific information about the death, including cause and manner.
Salem police referred questions about Zraket to county officials. Rockingham County Attorney Patrica Conway said an investigation is being conducted by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department.
Requests made to the office of High Sheriff Charles Massahos were unanswered Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the state attorney general said that office was not investigating.
Garrity, 56, describes Zraket as a little brother to him. The two had been close since they were 12 and 10 years old, respectively.
They grew up “normal tenement kids,” Garrity said, often fishing in the Spicket River and playing ball outside.
Garrity says he vacationed with the Zraket family and spent many hours at their home with other friends, describing “Mr. and Mrs. Z” as well-respected and trusted by parents.
Later in life, Mark Zraket worked for various trucking companies, his obituary states. He enjoyed being with friends and playing the card game 45’s.
According to the obituary, Mark was predeceased by both of his parents, Frank and Therese (Benoit) Zraket.
Garrity said he was the one officials called with news of his friend’s death.
“He was in a bad place,” Garrity explained. “The drugs had taken over, but I tried to do what I could to help him.”
He said he found out about Zraket’s arrest promptly Thursday night.
Ten hours later, at 10 a.m., he answered his phone again, this time learning of the discovery of his friend’s body in a cell.