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Family seeking answers in Menard inmate's death

  • Michael A. Jefferson

    Michael A. Jefferson

By Staff Report
updated: 7/19/2017 9:38 AM

A 27-year-old Menard Correctional Center inmate, Michael A. Jefferson, of Chicago, died at the Chester Memorial Hospital emergency room on July 11.
According to Randolph County Coroner Carlos Barbour, Jefferson was found unresponsive in his cell and transported to the hospital, where he passed away at 1:20 p.m.
In a news release, Barbour stated preliminary results of the autopsy - conducted at 11:30 a.m. July 12 at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville - showed no signs of trauma and is awaiting completion due to pending toxicology results and histology findings.
Barbour told the newspaper it could be up to 12 weeks for the test results to come back. The case is being investigated by the Illinois Department of Corrections, Randolph County Coroner's Office and Illinois State Police.
The same day as the autopsy, a GoFundMe page, "Justice for Michael Jefferson," was created by Jefferson's mother, Janel Charles. It is seeking $8,000 for an independent autopsy of Jefferson.
On the page, Charles stated her son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in grade school and had been housed in segregation at Menard for being labeled as severely mentally ill. She stated she had received a call from Menard stating her son had been found unresponsive in his cell, was transported to Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead.
Charles also wrote the following in a post that included photos of her son's body.
"When I got to the funeral home here in Chicago I couldn't believe my eyes. My son's face is swollen beyond recognition. He still has blood in his nose cuts in his mouth, a knot on the side of his head. MY CHILD WAS MURDERED. While giving a proper burial it is important to me, my primary concern right now is finding answers. I must have an independent autopsy performed here in Chicago."
As of Wednesday morning, $6,515 had been raised from 268 people.
In a statement, IDOC said the wounds seen in the pictures of Jefferson's body were consistent with those incurred during autopsy and body decomposition.