Justice For Them

CEDAR RAPIDS — A mixed martial arts fighter hanged himself in the Linn County Jail shortly after he had agreed to plead guilty to federal child pornography charges, according to authorities and court records.

Travis Jon Fulton, 44, of Parkersburg, who went by “The Ironman” on the MMA fighting circuit, was identified Sunday as the inmate who about 4 a.m. Saturday was found unresponsive in a dormitory-style cell at the Linn County Jail, where he was being held on federal charges.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office did not say if any inmates witnessed what authorities said they believe was a suicide. The office said he was discovered during a “routine” cell check. Jail staff tried to revive him with CPR and he was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5 a.m.

Fulton was arrested Feb. 19 by the U.S. Marshals Service and had been held in the Linn County Jail since then.

Court records show initially he was indicted on charges he enticed a girl under age 18 to engage in sexual behavior that he photographed over the span of several years. In March, a federal grand jury expanded the indictment to add another victim, also a girl under 18. Besides the felony sexual exploitation charges, Fulton also faced charges of receiving and possessing child porn, records show.

In one case, court records show, the exploitation occurred between June 2013 and April 2020. In the other, it occurred around November 2020. The indictment does not specify where the criminal acts were believed to have occurred, only that it was within the U.S. Attorney’s Northern District of Iowa jurisdiction.

According to a report from ESPN, Fulton held the MMA record for career professional fights with 320. He is nicknamed “The Ironman” for his record number of fights dating to 1996. But he had not fought in two years, reported mmafighting.com, a website operated by Vox Media.

Court papers filed last Friday — hours before Fulton was discovered unresponsive — show he had agreed to plead guilty to two of the four charges: one of the exploitation counts and the possessions of child porn count. A federal judge canceled a trial date and set a July 23 plea hearing.

Separately, Fulton faced state charges including causing willful injury in Black Hawk County. According to court records, officers had responded Sept. 5, 2019, to an emergency room in Waterloo where a woman was being treated for broken bones.

“The victim was afraid to talk to police, but her family members reported she said the defendant punched her in the head and back repeatedly,” a criminal complaint stated. “She sustained fractures to her jaw, nose, and palate and was seen at the University of Iowa Hospitals. He threatened to kill the victim and her family if she ever talked to the police. The defendant is a self-proclaimed professional fighter, with a twenty-year career, and the ability to do serious bodily injury with his hands.”

A trial on the state charges was set for Sept. 7 at the Black Hawk County Courthouse.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office said the death is under investigation and the state medical examiner will conduct an autopsy. Authorities said they would not release details on how they believe Fulton hanged himself in the cell.

By Joseph Franklin

We blog about human trafficking and child porn cases. If you have any information on the situation please feel free to call the nation human trafficking hotline at 1-888-7888

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