Birmingham, Alabama – The families of two deceased inmates in Alabama’s prison system have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that their loved ones were returned without their hearts or other organs. The lawsuit, filed against the Alabama Department of Corrections and others, claims that the body of Brandon Clay Dotson, who died in November, was decomposing and missing his heart when it was returned to his family. In another case, the daughter of Charles Edward Singleton, who also died while incarcerated, stated in court documents that her father’s body was missing all of his internal organs upon its return in 2021.
According to the lawsuit, Dotson’s family grew suspicious of foul play in his death and hired a pathologist to conduct a second autopsy. It was during this process that they discovered their loved one’s heart was missing. Seeking answers and justice, the family initiated legal action in an effort to uncover why the heart was removed and to have it returned.
The attorney representing Dotson’s family, Lauren Faraino, stated that the experiences of multiple families suggest a pattern of organ removal. The lawsuit describes the mishandling of the deceased’s body as a violation of human dignity and accuses the Alabama Department of Corrections of grave robbery and mutilation.
During their investigations, Dotson’s family uncovered similar experiences from other families who had also lost loved ones in Alabama’s prison system. The court documents filed by Dotson’s family mention that Charlene Drake, Singleton’s daughter, was informed by a funeral home that her father’s body had arrived without any internal organs. Normally, after an autopsy, the organs are returned to the body in a bag, but in this case, the funeral home received the body without any internal organs.
The family’s court filing also mentions that the heart may have been retained during a state autopsy with the intention of it being given for scientific research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Attorneys for the university denied these claims, referring to them as “bald speculation,” and stated that the university did not perform the autopsy and did not receive any of Dotson’s organs.
A federal judge held a hearing on the matter, but it did not provide any answers regarding the whereabouts of Dotson’s heart. The Alabama Department of Corrections has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
In summary, the families of two deceased inmates have filed a federal lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections, alleging that their loved ones’ bodies were returned without their hearts or other organs. The lawsuit raises concerns about the mishandling of the deceased’s bodies and accuses the department of violating human dignity. The families seek answers and the return of their loved ones’ missing organs. The university mentioned in the lawsuit denies any involvement in the removal of organs. A hearing on the matter did not provide any resolution.