COURTS & LEGAL

Prisoners’ bodies returned to families without heart, other organs, lawsuit alleges

Jan 10, 2024, 7:09 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm

courtroom gavel...

Two men now face criminal charges tying them to a rash of burglaries at several meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Eagle Mountain in September. (Pixabay)

(Pixabay)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The bodies of two men who died while incarcerated in Alabama’s prison system were missing their hearts or other organs when returned to their families, a federal lawsuit alleges.

The family of Brandon Clay Dotson, who died in a state prison in November, filed a federal lawsuit last month against the Alabama Department of Corrections and others saying his body was decomposing and his heart was missing when his remains were returned to his family.

In a court filing in the case last week, the daughter of Charles Edward Singleton, another deceased inmate, said her father’s body was missing all of his internal organs when it was returned in 2021.

Lauren Faraino, an attorney representing Dotson’s family, said via email Wednesday that the experience of multiple families shows this is “absolutely part of a pattern.”

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment late Wednesday afternoon to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Dotson, 43, was found dead on Nov. 16 at Ventress Correctional Facility. His family, suspecting foul play was involved in his death, hired a pathologist to do a second autopsy and discovered his heart was missing, according to the lawsuit. His family filed a lawsuit seeking to find out why his heart was removed and to have it returned to them.

“Defendants’ outrageous and inexcusable mishandling of the deceased’s body amounts to a reprehensible violation of human dignity and common decency,” the lawsuit states, adding that “their appalling misconduct is nothing short of grave robbery and mutilation.”

Dotson’s family, while seeking information about what happened to his heart, discovered that other families had similar experiences, Faraino said.

The situation involving Singleton’s body is mentioned in court documents filed by Dotson’s family last week. In the documents, the inmate’s daughter Charlene Drake writes that a funeral home told her that her father’s body was brought to it “with no internal organs” after his death while incarcerated in 2021.

She wrote that the funeral director told her that “normally the organs are in a bag placed back in the body after an autopsy, but Charles had been brought to the funeral home with no internal organs.” The court filing was first reported by WBMA.

A federal judge held a hearing in the Dotson case last week. Al.com reported that the hearing provided no answers to the location of the heart.

The lawsuit filed by Dotson’s family contended that the heart might have been retained during a state autopsy with intent to give it to the medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for research purposes.

Attorneys for the university said that was “bald speculation” and wrote in a court filing that the university did not perform the autopsy and never received any of Dotson’s organs.

KSL 5 TV Live

Courts & Legal

Jodi Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke on an advertisement for the ConneXions program....

Shelby Lofton

Life coaching regulations under consideration following Hildebrandt case

A bill regulating life coaching programs in Utah is on hold to give the Utah Division of Professional Licensing more time to study the profession.

13 hours ago

CORRECTS SENTENCE TO UP TO 30 YEARS, NOT 60 YEARS - Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court Tue...

Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Ruby Franke’s parents, brother say Franke was brainwashed

Ruby Franke's parents asked a judge to show "as much mercy" as possible ahead of her sentencing this week for child abuse, saying their daughter had been brainwashed.

14 hours ago

The mug shots of Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt obtained by KSL on Feb. 21 2024. It's expected th...

Shelby Lofton

Long-term therapy expected for Ruby Franke, Jodi Hildebrandt’s young victims

After their mother, Ruby Franke, and previous counselor Jodi Hildebrandt were sentenced for aggravated child abuse, it's expected the Franke children will need long-term therapy to heal from the trauma they've endured.

2 days ago

metal container with slides frozen in the bottom...

Laura Ungar, Science Writer

How Alabama court ruling that frozen embryos are children could affect IVF

The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. This is raising concerns about how the decision could affect in vitro fertilization, commonly known as IVF.

2 days ago

FILE...

Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Seattle officer who struck and killed graduate student from India won’t face felony charges

Prosecutors in Washington state said Wednesday they will not file felony charges against a Seattle police officer who struck and killed a graduate student from India while responding to an overdose call.

2 days ago

In this screen grab from lapel camera video provided by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, movie...

Associated Press

Jury selection begins for trial of ‘Rust’ armorer in fatal 2021 shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors are pursuing accountability in the 2021 death of a cinematographer who was shot by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the Western movie “Rust."

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Prisoners’ bodies returned to families without heart, other organs, lawsuit alleges