Problem Solvers help Missouri family get answers about prison death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When Dasha Goode Simpson’s uncle, Damon Lamont Simpson, died at the Algoa Correctional Center in January, it took nearly a year to figure out how a 44-year-old man would suddenly drop dead. 

It wasn’t until FOX4 Problem Solvers stepped in that Dasha and her family learned the truth about what happened to her uncle behind bars.

“I feel like they were expecting us to just let it go, seeing as he was in jail and why he was in jail, and that’s just not the case,” Dasha said. “Everybody still loves their loved ones even when they’re in jail.”

Problem Solvers requested Damon’s autopsy at least four times, but the Missouri Department of Corrections and medical examiner’s office in Columbia always told us his death was still under investigation. 

A FOX4 Problem Solvers investigation from several months ago revealed some prison families are forced to wait years for answers.

Unable to prod the Missouri Department of Corrections after 10 months of inaction, Problem Solvers contacted State Rep. Richard Brown, D-Kansas City, for help.

“I really appreciated the opportunity because I spend a lot of times going into the penitentiaries and I have a good relationship with folks down at the Department of Corrections,” Brown said.

All it took was one email from the state lawmaker, and the corrections department released the autopsy.

Problem Solvers immediately took it to Dasha.

“Me and my family, we just wanted to know,” she said. “We just wanted to be at peace, and now we can really have that now.”

The autopsy showed that Damon Simpson was found dead in his cell. A doctor ruled that he died from heart failure, with obesity and COVID-19 listed as contributing factors to his death.

But the document also shows the autopsy was performed Feb. 4 and a toxicology report was issued in March.

So why wasn’t it released to the family or FOX4 Problem Solvers months ago?

The department said in a letter to Brown that “autopsies are very slow to be returned to us and we have no control over the speed in which we get them back.”

It goes on to say that the department never received a request for the autopsy from the family, something they adamantly denied.

“I emailed them multiple times, I called,” Dasha said.

Dasha’s uncle, Gerald Simpson, brother to Damon, said he also called the prison multiple times to ask about his cause of death and to find out what happened to his brother’s body.

“The morgue didn’t hit me back, ain’t nobody hit me back,” he said. “The morgue, I tried to call about his body, ‘Where is my brother’s body? What happened? Where is he at? Did he get cremated? What happened?’”

“That’s what I want to know.”

With the help of Brown, Problem Solvers learned Damon Simpson’s body was turned over to a former prison employee whom Damon had listed as his fiancée, a woman the family has never met.

She’s refused to tell both FOX4 Problem Solvers and the family what she did with his remains, another heartbreaking road block for a grieving family.

They know Damon Simpson was far from perfect, but he was family and they’ll always love him.

“I wish I could’ve seen him one more time,” Dasha said.

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