A U.S. Army veteran died in a Pennsylvania jail cell last year and parts of his body strangely went missing, a mystery his family is still trying to solve.
Everett Palmer Jr., a former Army paratrooper, died on April 9, 2018 at the York County Jail, where he was arrested on a DUI warrant. But his family received his body back without a throat, heart or brain, NY1 reported last week.
His parents, Rose and Dwayne Palmer, still don’t know what happened to their son after receiving conflicting information.
The family of Everett Palmer Jr., a veteran who died in police custody, is looking for answers more than a year after his death. They said it was only after they hired a private pathologist that they found out his brain, throat and heart were missing. https://t.co/iOjsThnS2O pic.twitter.com/JlvsdSY4Tk
— CNN (@CNN) June 8, 2019
“We want answers. We want to understand what happened,” Dwayne Palmer said.
Everett Palmer was healthy, employed as a physical trainer, and not a trouble maker, his parents said. He had two young sons.
A day after his death, the county coroner initially told the Palmers that their son “became agitated and began hitting his head against his cell door,” but it was an explanation that didn’t match up with his known behavior, nor one they believed.
Three and a half months later, the coroner changed the cause of death to “complications following an excited state, associated with methamphetamine toxicity, during physical restraint,” according to the autopsy summary obtained by The Washington Post.
When his body was finally returned to the Palmers months later, they discovered his remains were incomplete. A pathologist they hired on their own considered Everett Palmer’s death a homicide.
The official manner of death remains “undetermined.”
The York County coroner issued a statement last week with an explanation as to the whereabouts of the missing organs – an explanation they say the coroner provided the family last year.
“We did advise the family through their attorney at the time that the organs referenced – the heart, brain and throat – had been retained by FPA (Forensic Pathology Associates) for further investigation,” the coroner’s office said in a statement.
The statement added that the FPA is authorized to take possession of the organs in accordance with industry guidelines for deaths under investigation.
Further, the coroner’s office said the Palmers have been in contact with the office and the FPA the whole time, and it was though that communication channel that their hired pathologist was permitted to examine the organs.
Still, the situation poses unanswered questions.
One of the Palmers’ attorneys, Marlon Kirton, argued that a throat is not typically removed for an autopsy.
“Makes no sense, unless you’re trying to maybe avoid people knowing how he died; which was maybe by asphyxiation,” he told NY1.
The family filed notices with several state agencies to preserve their right to legal action.
Attorneys John Coyle and Daniel Purtell told NY1 in a statement, “At this time we are respecting the criminal investigative process in hopes that the Palmer family’s questions will be answered and those accountable will be brought to justice. That said, given the extended amount of time that has passed, the Palmer family grows increasingly eager to find answers. We remain prepared to pursue this matter through all available legal channels.”