Family demand answers after father-of-two, 34, dies in jail three days after being arrested for failing to update his address while on probation - and independent autopsy can't be done because his HEART is 'missing'

 The family of a Georgia father-of-two who died in jail three days after being arrested on a probation violation for not reporting his change of address have spent the past four months trying to find out what happened to him - and track down missing pieces of his heart.  

Lee Creely, 34, was booked into the Chatham County Detention Center on September 3, 2020, for failing to let his probation officer know about his new residence three weeks prior. 

Creely, whose record included arrests for drug offenses in 2018 and 2019, had just moved from a motel to a house so his sons, aged 12 and 7, could have their own rooms. 

Lee Creely, 34 (pictured right next to his girlfriend), was arrested on a probation violation in Georgia and booked into the Chatham County Detention Center on September 3

Lee Creely, 34 (pictured right next to his girlfriend), was arrested on a probation violation in Georgia and booked into the Chatham County Detention Center on September 3

Three days after his arrest, Creely was found dead in his cell at the Savannah jail

Three days after his arrest, Creely was found dead in his cell at the Savannah jail

'We were making a fresh start,' Creely's girlfriend, Jessica Hodges, told Reuters.

Three nights after his arrest, on September 6, officers and nurses discovered Creely on the bed in his jail cell, with his face and hands turned blue, his fists clenched in rigor mortis. He was pronounced dead.  

Creely, whose record included arrests for drug offenses in 2018 and 2019, had failed to report his change of address to his probation officer

Creely, whose record included arrests for drug offenses in 2018 and 2019, had failed to report his change of address to his probation officer 

On Wednesday, four months after Creely's death, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told his family that the inmate died from a fentanyl overdose, but they believe the official autopsy results do not tell the whole truth, reported WSAV

'Tell this family what happened in this jail, because they haven’t been told anything,' said William Claiborne, the family's attorney. 

Claiborne said his clients have been unable to commission an independent autopsy because Creely's heart had been removed and parts of it have not been returned.

'No one with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or the Chatham County Coroner’s Office has told the family where Mr. Creely’s heart is, despite their repeated requests,' Claiborne claimed. 

The GBI released a statement denying that Creely's heart was missing.

'A complete autopsy was performed and all organs were returned to the body as per the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office protocol,' read the statement. 'As a part of a routine autopsy examination, the heart is dissected and very small pieces are retained for microscopic examination.' 

Chatham Sheriff John Wilcher and his office announced the firing of five officers for allegedly failing to check on Creely or respond more quickly. 

Creely and his girlfriend, Jessica Hodges (left and right), had just moved from a motel to a house so their sons, aged 12 and 7, could have their own rooms
Hodges was on the phone with Creely when he was picked up by police

Creely and his girlfriend, Jessica Hodges (left and right), had just moved from a motel to a house so their sons, aged 12 and 7, could have their own rooms

An autopsy showed that Creely (right) died in jail from a fentanyl overdose, but internal jail records show that the facility's medical provider, CorrectHealth, delivered Creely's daily drug withdrawal medications just once in four days

An autopsy showed that Creely (right) died in jail from a fentanyl overdose, but internal jail records show that the facility's medical provider, CorrectHealth, delivered Creely's daily drug withdrawal medications just once in four days


One deputy, Terence Jackson, was arrested on a felony charge for allegedly writing falsely in log books that he checked inmates' cells 10 times over two and half days when video from jail security cameras showed he had stayed at his desk. 

'I’m not going to tolerate it,' Wilcher told a news conference in September. 'We’ve got a job to do here and these people need to be treated humanely.' 

Wilcher asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to carry out a probe.

According to reporting by Reuters, which has reviewed confidential internal jail records, the facility's medical provider, CorrectHealth, delivered Creely's daily medications just once in four days. He had been prescribed the medications to help manage his withdrawal from heroin and benzodiazepines. 

Chatham County Sheriff's Deputy Terence Jackson has been charged with falsifying records for allegedly writing falsely in log books that he checked inmates' cells 10 times over two and half days

Chatham County Sheriff's Deputy Terence Jackson has been charged with falsifying records for allegedly writing falsely in log books that he checked inmates' cells 10 times over two and half days

CorrectHealth also stopped checking his vitals after his second day in jail, violating the company's own protocols. CorrectHealth's nurses had not visited Creely's cell in almost 48 hours before finding his corpse, the records show.

Two correctional healthcare specialists, who reviewed the records gathered, said the failure to provide medications and monitor someone in withdrawal violated jail medical standards. The abrupt halting of benzodiazepines can cause seizures, while unsupervised withdrawal from heroin can lead to severe dehydration.

'Benzodiazepine withdrawal can kill someone,' said Dr. Robert Cohen, a former director of medical care at New York's jail complex on Rikers Island, who has served as a federally appointed monitor overseeing inmate healthcare across the United States.  

The GBI said it is examining the actions of both jail and medical staff.

Like two-thirds of American jail inmates who die behind bars, Creely died without being convicted of the charge on which he was being held.

Hodges appeared at a press conference on Thursday, demanding answers on Creely's death

Hodges appeared at a press conference on Thursday, demanding answers on Creely's death

'My younger son keeps asking, "Why did they let my daddy die?"' said Hodges, the mother of their children. 'I don't know why.'

Hodges told The Daily Beast she first met Creely 13 years ago. She conceded that he battled drug addiction, but insisted that he was a good father to their two sons and would have given the shirt off his back to anyone. 

Hodges said she was on the phone with her boyfriend when he was picked up by police officers while shopping for groceries. 

She was scheduled to visit Creely in jail on September 7, but a day earlier she got a call telling her he has died.  

Claiborne demanded that the county jail in Savannah, which he slammed as a 'death factory,' terminate its contract with CorrectHealth after a string of deaths, including Creely's. 

At least 24 inmates died over 12 years at the facility, two-thirds of them in the last seven years. 

CorrectHealth won the contract in 2016. A year later, an outside monitor suggested the county fine the contractor $5.2million for staffing and healthcare lapses. The county waived the fines and dismissed the monitor. 

In November, the county awarded CorrectHealth a $500,000 bonus, citing its increased costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and boosted its overall contract by more than $1million for next year. 

William Claiborne, the family's lawyer, said his clients are unable to commission an independent autopsy because portions of Creely's hearts have not been returned

William Claiborne, the family's lawyer, said his clients are unable to commission an independent autopsy because portions of Creely's hearts have not been returned 

'They are not providing proper care to the inmates through privatization,' said Georgia House Representative Sandra Scott. The Democrat said the state should better monitor healthcare in jails across Georgia, including at the Chatham County facility, to ensure inmates are promptly being seen by medical staff and receiving their medications.

A fellow Democrat, Representative Kim Schofield, said she plans on collaborating with Scott in drafting bills mandating more stringent oversight in a state with no mandatory inspection system for local jails. 

'This stuff has gone on long enough,' she said.

Family demand answers after father-of-two, 34, dies in jail three days after being arrested for failing to update his address while on probation - and independent autopsy can't be done because his HEART is 'missing' Family demand answers after father-of-two, 34, dies in jail three days after being arrested for failing to update his address while on probation - and independent autopsy can't be done because his HEART is 'missing' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:21 Rating: 5

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