Mom upset after learning of son’s prison death on Facebook

Posted at 7:40 PM, Nov 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-13 07:55:40-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The pain of not knowing what happened to her son is too much to bear for one Richmond mother. Janice Yellardy said her family was stunned to learn of her son Samah’s death through other inmates and their families via Facebook.

Janice says when her sister was notified through Facebook last Friday, she called the prison for answers.

“She called Powhatan and they said 'yes, he passed away,'” Yellardy explained.

Yellardy said their family has been contacted by several inmates and eventually a corrections officer who was on duty at the prison on November 7,  the day Samah died.

An officer claiming to be from the Powhatan Correctional Center reached out to CBS 6 with claims the facility was trying to cover up Samah Yellardy’s death and that video cameras recorded the incident.

The Department of Corrections and officials declined to comment, and cited an ongoing investigation and inmate privacy.

Yellardy said she asked the warden about accounts that prior to his death,  her son begged for medical help for severe pains in his side.

“He said we gave him fluids and the fluids didn’t work,” Yellardy said. She does not believe the preliminary report given to her by prison administrators, she added.

“My son complained about his side, not his heart. It ain’t right. The warden told me he had a massive heart attack and I said no sir, my son did not have a heart attack. My son was 29 years old and had no medical problems,” she said.

She said to make matters worse, it has been five days since her son died and she has yet to see his body. She said there are too many questions and she won’t stop until she gets answers.

So far, she said no one from the prison has been able to provide for her the time of her son’s death, or the circumstances surrounding how soon he received medical treatment.

Yellardy said administrators haven’t revealed to her who pronounced her son dead. She said  she’s also frustrated that there are conflicting reports on whether or not Samah was ever taken from the Powhatan Correctional Center to the hospital.

She said she was also told that she wouldn’t be able to retrieve her son’s personal belongings for 60 days. Yellardy said every day the question of whether the prison followed proper procedures haunts her.

“They messed with the wrong one. If I have to fight until the day I die, I’m going to get justice for my son,” Yellardy vowed.

Prison officials declined to comment but did send CBS 6 News its operating procedures on how inmates can access health services. They also sent their policy on notifying families about an inmate’s death.

Samah Yellardy was serving time on a grand larceny conviction. His mother said he was in the sixth year of his sentence and was to be released in 14 months.

CBS 6 News checked in with the state medical examiner’s office about the cause and manner of death for Samah Yellardy and we were told that the results are still pending.