In a desperate search for answers, one family has published pictures online of the body of an inmate who died after he was reportedly found unresponsive in a cell in an Illinois prison earlier this month.
The extremely graphic photos, which appear on the familys GoFundMe page and a family friends viral social media post, show the swollen face and body of Chicago resident Michael Jefferson, who was being held at the Menard Correctional Centeron a parole violation, according to NBC Chicago.
Somebody needs to tell me something. My son was 27 and healthy, Janel Charles, Jeffersons mother, told Chicago station WGN News. Her crowd-funding page says she is raising money to conductan independent autopsyon her son.
Whatever went on in there, he did not deserve to die that way. He was a human being, Charles told the news station. He had people loved him. I loved my son. His brothers loved him. He died like an animal.
The images of Jeffersons body were taken by a family friend, who posted them online with Charles permission. It shows an open wound on Jeffersons throat and back, as well as some swelling. They can be viewed at the readers discretion hereandhere.
When I got to the funeral home here in Chicago I couldnt believe my eyes, Charles wrote on the GoFundMe page. My sons face is swollen beyond recognition.
She speculated that her son was murdered and cited several cuts and swelling on his body as proof. She also maintained that her son was healthy, aside from allegedly being diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was younger.
He still has blood in his nose, cuts in his mouth, a knot on the side of his head, Charles wroteof her sons body on July 12.
Jefferson was in the maximum security prison on gun charges and awaiting trial, CBS 2 Chicago reported.
The Menard Correctional Center called Charles on July 11 to alert her that Jefferson had been found unresponsive in his cell and taken to the Chester Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Charles explained on the GoFundMe site. The Randolph County Herald Tribune obtained a news release from the county coroners office that confirmed Charles accountof the timeline surrounding Jeffersons death.
According to the newspapers report on the news release, the Randolph County coroner conducted a preliminary autopsy at St. Elizabeths Hospital in the city of Belleville on July 12 and reportedly found no signs of trauma. The Belleville hospital is located nearly 50 miles from the Chester Memorial Hospital, where Jefferson was pronounced dead.
The coroners office is still waiting for the final autopsy results, which will include a toxicology report and histology findings.
The Illinois Department of Corrections, which is investigating Jeffersons death, said in a statement that the wounds and swelling may be a result of the autopsy and the bodys decomposition, according to NBC Chicago.
It is the departments understanding that the wounds seen in the pictures of Mr. Jeffersons body are consistent with those incurred during an autopsy and the swelling a result of the bodys rapid decomposition, the department said.
Charles wants a second independent autopsy to be performed in Chicago. She is sharing the photos of her sons body because I want the world to know what happened to my son and maybe we can stop this from happening to another family, she wrote on GoFundMe.
Jeffersons family is working with an attorney to obtain more details surrounding the 27-year-olds death and has asked the Department of Corrections to release any related surveillance footage, according to CBS 2 Chicago.
I didnt understand how you didnt see any trauma, Charles told NBC Chicago. Is that how they come out of Menard looking when they die?
HuffPost has reached out to the Illinois Department of Corrections for more details surrounding Jeffersons death, including what details they have released to his family. Check back for updates.
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