Second Alabama Prisoner’s Family Raises Concerns Over Missing Organs

The family of a second inmate who died in Alabama’s prison system is claiming that his body was returned to them with missing organs.

Brandon Clay Dotson passed away in a state prison in November, and his family filed a federal lawsuit last month against the Alabama Department of Corrections, alleging that his body was decomposing and his heart was missing when it was returned to them.

In a recent court filing related to the case, the daughter of another deceased inmate, Charles Edward Singleton, stated that her father’s body was returned without any internal organs in 2021.

Lauren Faraino, an attorney representing Dotson’s family, mentioned in an email that the experiences of multiple families indicate that this is part of a troubling pattern.

The Associated Press reached out for a comment from the Alabama Department of Corrections, but there was no response as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Dotson, aged 43, was found dead on November 16 at Ventress Correctional Facility. Suspecting foul play, his family hired a pathologist for a second autopsy, revealing that his heart was missing.

The family filed a lawsuit to investigate the reasons behind the removal of his heart and to have it returned to them.

“Defendants’ outrageous and inexcusable mishandling of the deceased’s body amounts to a reprehensible violation of human dignity and common decency,” the lawsuit stated, adding that “their appalling misconduct is nothing short of grave robbery and mutilation.”

Dotson’s family, while looking into what happened to his heart, found out that other families went through similar situations, according to Faraino.

The details about Singleton’s body are discussed in legal papers submitted by Dotson’s family last week. In these documents, the inmate’s daughter, Charlene Drake, mentions that a funeral home informed her that her father’s body was delivered to them “without any internal organs” after he passed away in 2021 while in prison.

“Normally the organs are in a bag placed back in the body after an autopsy, but Charles had been brought to the funeral home with no internal organs,” the funeral director reportedly informed her, according to what she wrote. It was WBMA that initially reported on the court petition.

A judge had a meeting about the Dotson case last week. According to, the meeting didn’t reveal where the heart is.

Dotson’s family filed a lawsuit claiming the heart might have been kept after a state autopsy to be given to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s medical school for research.

The university’s lawyers called it baseless speculation and stated in a court document that the university didn’t do the autopsy and never got any of Dotson’s organs.


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