Nfld. & Labrador

Mother of Samantha Piercey doesn't believe authorities' explanation of her death

Lisa Piercey says 48 hours after her daughter's death at the Clarenville jail, she finally has details of what happened. But she doesn't accept what she was told.

Lisa Piercey given details 48 hours after daughter's death

Lisa Piercey spoke to her daughter Samantha Piercey, pictured here, the day before her death. (Submitted)

The mother of Samantha Piercey, the inmate who died at the jail in Clarenville last Saturday, says she finally has an explanation for her daughter's death — but it doesn't add up.

"They told me what time she died, and how it happened. They said it was suicide, but I don't believe it," she said.

"I know she wouldn't do that. She was coming back to Corner Brook and she was looking forward to it."

Police and clergy first contacted Lisa Piercey on Saturday night to notify her of Samantha's death. Piercey said she waited a few hours and then reached out to the jail and hospital for more answers, but got nowhere. She said it was only on Monday evening, 48 hours later — and after her story aired on CBC, that authorities told her Samantha had died by suicide.

Piercey said she was offered no apology about the delay, other than properly notifying her with details that had somehow slipped through the cracks.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Safety confirmed to CBC that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner contacted Piercey, but that government would not comment further on the matter, because "this incident is under investigation."

Samantha Piercey, 28, was due to return to Corner Brook from the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women to await trial in the first week of June on a host of charges, including aggravated assault. 

'Nobody sat with her'

Lisa Piercey said the last time she talked to her daughter was on May 25 — the day before she died. Samantha was upbeat and spoke of seeing her own daughter and son. But Piercey said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told her that Samantha's mood was vastly different in the hours just before her death.

"They said she had a phone conversation with somebody, it upset her. That's it … that's all I know. She was speaking with an inmate, and I guess that conversation escalated to the point they were yelling," said Piercey.

Piercey said she was told that Samantha was then dosed with an anti-depressant and left alone in her cell.

When guards returned, Samantha was dead.

"Nobody sat with her, nobody watched her. [It was] 45 minutes before they checked on her, knowing she was upset," said Piercey.

Samantha Piercey's trial was scheduled to begin June 4 at the courthouse in Corner Brook. (CBC)
She has two children that she adores. She would not do that.- Lisa Piercey

Piercey said her daughter had mental health issues, mainly "anger-related," for which she took anti-depressants, the same medication given to her that night. But Samantha had never spoken of suicide before.

"She has two children that she adores. She would not do that," she said. 

Piercey was told there was video footage of the incident. Now, she wants to see it, and is pressing the Department of Justice and Public Safety to do so. The province would not comment on that matter to CBC.

Piercey added that after she buries her daughter, she will also fight for changes to the corrections system as a whole.

"There's no compassion," she said.

"Anybody with any kind of mental health [issue], jail is not the answer for them. But that seems to be where they're putting them."

Samantha Piercey is the second inmate in two months to die at the jail in Clarenville. Those deaths, along with a third male inmate who died in St. John's last year, are now the subject of an independent investigation.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated Lisa Piercey was first contacted 48 hours after her daughter's death. She was in fact contacted a few hours afterward.
    Jun 01, 2018 10:47 AM NT

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