Family Awaits Answers: Inmate Found Dead in Alabama Prison, Heart Missing

CLAYTON, Alabama — The mysterious death of inmate Brandon Clay Dotson in an Alabama prison has raised troubling questions surrounding the disappearance of his heart. Dotson was found dead in his prison bed at Ventress Correctional Facility on November 16, the same day he was being considered for parole release. Court documents reveal that Dotson’s heart was missing when his body was released to his family. The family filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama on December 7, seeking answers regarding the cause of death and the whereabouts of his heart.

Dotson, 43, was serving time for burglary when he was found unresponsive in his cell. After his death, his mother requested that his body be released for a funeral before Thanksgiving. However, the state Department of Corrections insisted on performing a routine autopsy before releasing the body. When the body was finally released on November 21, the family hired a pathologist who discovered the absence of Dotson’s heart during the second autopsy.

A recent hearing in federal court attempted to uncover where Dotson’s heart is and why it was removed. According to the 34-page complaint, Dotson’s cause of death remains undetermined due to the missing heart, which is crucial to establishing the circumstances surrounding his death. The lawsuit alleges that the removal of the heart indicates deliberate illegal activity or gross negligence by the parties responsible for the body.

The suit names several defendants, including the Ventress Correctional Facility warden, correction officers, and the University of Alabama (UAB) Medical Center. Dotson’s family claims that the Department of Corrections or those responsible for transporting the body removed and retained the heart without their consent.

Witnesses, including the warden and officials from the Alabama Department of Corrections and the Department of Forensic Sciences, testified during the hearing. They all confirmed that the whereabouts of the heart remain unknown. Lawyers for the prison system denied having the heart, while the director of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences stated that he had not reviewed the case file yet.

While standard autopsies involve the examination and sectioning of internal organs, the tissue removed is typically returned to the body. The director of the department could not explain why a fully intact organ would not be returned. The judge ordered the state to provide Dotson’s autopsy report for review.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and requests a temporary restraining order to prevent the Department of Corrections from retaining Dotson’s remains. The family wants his remains returned to them. The case highlights the need for answers regarding the circumstances of Dotson’s death and the troubling issue of missing organs.