Second Alabama Prisoner's Body Returned to Family With Missing Organs

The news comes a month after a deceased man was returned to his family without his heart.

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Another family is taking action against the Alabama Department of Corrections after the body of a deceased relative who died in prison was returned to them with his organs missing.

As reported by ABC 33/40, the family of Charles Edward Singleton said in court documents that a funeral home found that all of his organs, including his brain, were missing. Singleton died in November 2021. Before his death, he was housed at the Hamilton Aged and Infirmed and was sent to a hospital for end-of-life care.

The family said the UAB's Department of Pathology performed an autopsy on the body. When they requested his body be sent to a funeral home, they were informed that it "would be difficult to prepare his body for viewing" because it was in a "noticeable state of decomposition," which the director described as "advanced skin slippage." His family claimed that they were told that all of his organs, including his brain, had been removed. Typically, when an autopsy is performed, organs are placed in a bag but are later put back in the body before being sent to a funeral home.

"We do not comment on pending litigation. We only conduct autopsies with consent or authorization and follow standard procedures equitably for anyone consented to or authorized for an autopsy," the UAB said regarding the case. "The autopsy practice is accredited by the College of American Pathologists and staffed by credentialed physicians who are certified by the American Board of Pathology."

The court documents about Singleton come not long after a former inmate's family filed a lawsuit against the Alabama state prison system for returning his body to them with his heart missing. In a federal lawsuit, the family of Brandon Clay Dotson, who died at the Ventress Correctional Facility on November 16, 2023, said that his body was sent to them in a "severely decomposed" state.

"The Alabama Department of Corrections—or an agent responsible for conducting the autopsy or transporting the body to his family—had, inexplicably and without the required permission from Mr. Dotson's next of kin, removed and retained Mr. Dotson's heart," the lawsuit alleges. They also claimed the prison failed to protect Dotson from harm, as he alerted the staff that he needed help because he believed other inmates were trying to harm him over drug debts.

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