Family of Teen Who Died in Custody Plans Vigil - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Family of Teen Who Died in Custody Plans Vigil

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, FL (WFLX) Cathy Bailey said she plans to stand outside the Indian River Correctional Institution Sunday night for a candlelight vigil.

The youthful offender prison is where her nephew, Demetrius Jordan of Cocoa, who would have turned 18 this month, had spent the last two years serving a sentence for attempted murder. Symbolically, Bailey has been standing outside the facility for several months.

"I moved to Brevard County so I could be able to visit Demetrius, but that didn't work out," Bailey said. "The last time we were able to see him was Dec. 24. After that, they told us he was in 'The Box' for disciplinary reasons. They wouldn't tell us why."

After Jordan was transferred to correctional facilities in Martin and Union counties, Bailey and other family members learned Jordan was hospitalized at Shands hospital in Gainesville earlier this week, she said. He died Monday, and the family wants Gov. Rick Scott to order an investigation of the boy's death.

"We learned he was in (Union County) by looking on the Department of Corrections website on Sunday," Bailey said. "By the time we could see him, he was on his death bed."

His death followed 30 days of daily requests by the family to meet with Jordan, they said.

The vigil will be held in front to the Indian River facility at 7625 17th Avenue Southwest, Vero Beach, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger called Jordan's death, which remains under investigation, an apparent suicide, with foul play ruled out. The state Medical Examiner's Office Thursday would not release a cause of death.

The family attorney, James Sweeting, scoffed at the notion of a suicide during a press conference Thursday.

"Every cover-up starts with the state claiming there was a suicide," Sweeting said, adding that Jordan never exhibited suicidal tendencies or mental illness. "Someone needs to be held responsible for what happened to this young man. The DOC has a higher obligation when it comes to minors to keep the family informed."

According to corrections records, he was transferred to the Reception and Medical Facility in Union on July 1. It was his fourth stint at the medical facility. Plessinger said she was not allowed to discuss why Jordan was sent to the medical facility because of privacy laws. Jordan's death would be the second suicide at the facility in the past three years.

Jordan pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder in the Jan. 12, 2008, shooting of 32-year-old Jason Grunenfelder, who had been working on an air-conditioning unit at MJ's Saloon in Titusville. The boy, 14 at the time, said he and his friends were doing "target practice." Grunenfelder was struck within a centimeter of his spine.

During his sentencing, Jordan apologized to his victim and said he never wanted to hurt anyone.

"I'm very, very sorry for what happened that day," he said. "I wish I could make it better."

  • Lamaur Stancil, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
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