Chatham County, GA — Lee Michael Creely, 34, was a good man, a father of two sons, and excited to have saved enough to move into his new home with his partner, Jessica Hodges, and their children. However, because Creely forgot to immediately tell his probation officer that he upgraded from a trailer into a new home, Creely would spend his last days alive dying in Chatham County lockup.
In August, Creely and his family finally saved up enough money to move out of their mobile home and into a new home so their sons, aged 12 and 7, could have their own rooms. Likely due to the fact that they were so excited to have upgraded their home, Creely forgot to tell his probation officer that he moved, setting off a chain of events that would lead to his untimely death.
To be clear, Creely shouldn’t have even been on probation. He was convicted of having a substance deemed illegal by the state, otherwise known as drug possession. There were no victims for the “crime” to which Creely found himself pleading guilty. Nevertheless, after his probation officer noticed Creely moved and didn’t notify him, Creely was arrested on Sept. 3.
Three days after his arrest, Creely — a young father of two — would be found dead in his jail cell. The cause of death was unknown.
Creely’s family is now going after the jail and demanding answers. One massive answer they are demanding to know is the location of his heart. Literally, his heart. According to the family’s attorney, an independent autopsy revealed that Creely’s heart was missing from his body after he died in jail. What’s more, the coroner refuses to explain what happened to it, according to the family.
According to a report in the Daily Beast:
Five deputies were fired in connection with Creely’s mysterious death inside the detention center, and one of them, Terence Jackson, was charged with one felony count of falsifying documents.
The Chatham County sheriff said Jackson claimed in a jail record that he made rounds to check on inmates 10 times, but that surveillance revealed he never left his desk.
The Chatham County sheriff’s office did not return messages by press time, nor did the agency’s private health care company, CorrectHealth LLC.
“It’s miserable. It’s hard to get any kind of closure from this, to start the healing process,” Hodges told The Daily Beast. “Nothing has made sense.” She said their children, Dawson, 7, and Landon, 12, don’t understand what’s happened, and she has no information from authorities or any way of explaining how their father died.
“Lee was a really easygoing person. Everybody loved him. He wasn’t confrontational at all. I just don’t understand why they would treat somebody like this,” Hodges said.
According to the lawsuit, Creely was on medication to manage his withdrawal from heroin and benzodiazepines but 48 hours prior to his death, no one so much as checked on Creely in his cell, much less gave him his medication.
After Creely’s story began to receive coverage in Reuters and other places, Nelly Miles, GBI’s director of the office of public affairs, released a statement claiming Creely died from fentanyl intoxication and that his heart was cut up and a portion of it retained for further examination. Creely’s family says they never received this information and only learned of it from the media.
As of the writing of this article, they have yet to receive an official reason for Creely’ death.
“How heartless must you be as an investigator or a government official here that you won’t tell this family what happened,” said Will Claiborne, an attorney for Hodges and the Creely family.
“And literally you’re keeping the guy’s heart, which obstructs us from being able to determine what happened. It’s disgusting, it’s macabre, and it’s deeply insulting to this family,” Claiborne added.
Unfortunately, the numbers from Chatham county are disturbing and Creely’s case is not isolated. At least 24 inmates died over 12 years at the facility, two-thirds of them in the last seven years. One of those inmates was a Savannah Technical College student named Matthew Ajibade.
As TFTP reported in 2015, Ajibade was in need of medical help and was arrested instead. Instead of taking Ajibade to the hospital, officers transported him to the Chatham County jail at 6:40 p.m. While being booked, Ajibade allegedly became combative with deputies and attacked them. But according to the newly released surveillance video inside the jail, Ajibade immediately put his hands in the air when deputies placed their hands on him and slammed the 21-year-old student to the ground.
As deputies Greg Capers and Eric Vinson brutally punched and kicked Ajibade in the head several times, the student attempted to push the overzealous cops away in a failed attempt to protect himself. After being tased and beaten on the floor, Ajibade was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints before the deputies carried him off-screen.
Deputies placed Ajibade in an isolation cell and strapped him to a restraining chair. According to the indictment, Cpl. Jason Kenny repeatedly shot Ajibade with a Taser and struck him in the head and upper body as he remained strapped to the chair. While performing a welfare check on him the next morning, deputies found Ajibade unresponsive. Medical staff administered CPR and attempted to restart his heart with a defibrillator. A coroner pronounced him dead at 8:45 a.m.