After Missouri inmate beaten to death, family seeks answers | News blog | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events
More than a week after their son died in the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections, Pat and Edie Hewitt are relying on hospital records and organ transplant center employees to piece together what happened. happened.
In an interview with the Riverside TimePat Hewitt says his 43-year-old son Joshua died at Mercy Hospital St. Louis on Jan. 11 after being injured three days earlier while incarcerated at Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green, Missouri.
Outside of those basic details, Pat Hewitt says he’s in the dark.
According to Pat Hewitt, his main contact at MODOC “categorically refuses to give me any information. They didn’t even tell us the date and time. We don’t even know when it happened.”
MODOC spokeswoman Karen Pojmann confirmed to the RFT that “Joshua Hewitt was assaulted at the NECC on January 8. He suffered serious injuries and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where he died on January 11. The matter is being investigated by the department and by local law enforcement. Because an active agent investigation is ongoing, I am unable to provide additional details.”
The Hewitts say they received a phone call the morning of Jan. 9 from a MODOC representative telling them their son had been in an altercation in jail and was currently on life support in St. Louis. Two days later, when Joshua passed away, Pat says a NECC deputy director called to offer his condolences.
With MODOC unable to release more information pending an investigation, the Hewitts relied on hospital records and an organ transplant center employee to piece together a rough timeline of what happened to their son. However, this timeline left the Hewitts with more questions than answers.
Pat Hewitt says he learned through a Mid-America Transplant donor advocate that his son, who was an organ donor, arrived in Mercy shortly before 3 a.m. on January 9. The attorney told him that the Bowling Green ambulance was passing two other hospitals on St. Louis Road because Joshua suffered two cardiac arrests and paramedics knew he needed more advanced care.
It was through a doctor in Mercy that Pat learned his son had broken ribs, a broken nose and a “serious head injury”.
Pat says that since he knows it takes about 75 minutes to drive from Bowling Green to St. Louis, he estimates his son was injured around midnight. But that’s just a guess.
“I am also concerned that this attack took place at six o’clock and that he was not found until midnight?” Pat says.
Two days later, on January 11, the hospital called again to inform the Hewitts that their son had succumbed to his head injuries.
Lori Curry, the executive director of Missouri Prison Reform, recounts RFT that the Hewitts aren’t the only ones complaining about the lack of information about incarcerated family members. “Communication from the Department of Corrections is always very minimal, whether you’re dealing with a minor medical issue with your loved one or something more serious,” Curry says. “It’s a fear we all have, that something will happen to our loved one and we won’t know the details.”
Joshua Hewitt had a long criminal history. His father described him as “an alcoholic. He’s been back and forth in prison for the last twenty years, which is pretty much most of his adult life.” Pat says that when her son was not incarcerated, he sometimes lived on the streets.
Joshua’s criminal record includes convictions for burglary and false reporting.
In 2012 at Hollister, according to a probable cause statement, he touched a minor’s breast through clothing, leading to a misdemeanor sexual misconduct conviction. He was sentenced to prison and, as part of the plea bargain, had to register as a sex offender.
In 2021, he failed to register as a sex offender in Taney County, resulting in a four-year prison sentence. He had served just over four months when he died.
“Honestly, we always felt better when he was incarcerated,” his father said. “We knew he had two or three meals a day. And he had a place to lay his head every night. We knew exactly where he was. Ironically, that’s where we lost him.
Pat says her family is struggling to come to terms with Joshua’s death. “I’m getting to the anger stage,” he says.
Pat says he wonders if his son’s status as a sex offender has anything to do with the assault. He also wonders if it could have been gang related or if it was an unpaid debt.
“I hope it wasn’t because of a debt,” he says. “Because there are two incarcerations, I refused to give him any money. I told him that was it.”
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