Mom questions son's death at jail
GEORGETOWN S.C. — On July 12, Craig Lambert wrote his mother a letter from his jail cell at the Georgetown County Detention Center.
In the letter he asked for money so he could purchase items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste and socks.
The day after he wrote the letter, 40-year-old Lambert was found dead inside his jail cell. He was found hanging with a bed sheet wrapped around his neck, according to the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office.
Lambert’s family says they have many unanswered questions about his death – and even though nearly two months have passed they have heard nothing at all from investigators from any authorities, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the lead investigating agency in the case.
Lambert’s mother, Mary Daisy Lambert, said Coroner Kenny Johnson and a jail chaplain met with her the day her son died, and again the day of the funeral, and that was the last time she has been contacted about the case.
Johnson said an autopsy showed Lambert died of “ligature hanging.” Mrs. Lambert said she is not saying her son’s death was not a suicide. She just wants questions answered so she and her family can know for sure.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said.
Mrs. Lambert said she began to raise questions when two days after her son’s death she received his letter in the mail.
“Those are not the types of things you are worried about buying if you are going to kill yourself,” Mrs. Lambert said.
Lambert said she was not in attendance at her son’s bond hearing. He had been arrested a week earlier on burglary charges.
“From what I hear, he was OK at his bond hearing,” Mrs. Lambert said. She also said she talked with him on the phone briefly two days before he died.
“He was upset because of the circumstances but nothing indicated he was suicidal,” she said. “We have talked about his feelings in the past and Craig said he would never commit suicide.
Lambert said she is perplexed about how her son could have hung himself as described by investigators.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the hanging took place at around noon. Lambert, according to the report, did have a cell mate — 29-year-old Joshua Booth.
He told deputies he and Lambert were talking when he drifted off to sleep.
“He stated that he woke up when he heard the lunch trays coming into the block. That is when he saw Mr. Lambert hanging from the hooks near the door that they usually hang towels from,” the report states. “Mr. Booth stated that he began yelling and he grabbed Mr. Lambert’s body and began lifting him up.”
A guard then made it to the cell and cut the sheet from Lambert’s body.
Mrs. Lambert says the details that have been released “just do not make any sense” because she feels someone should have seen or heard something since it happened in the middle of the day.
She also questions why it appears no additional safeguards were put into place after another man hung himself.
Less than three weeks before Lambert’s death, Samuel Arthur Yenawine, age 38, was found hanging in his cell.
“It seems something in the jail would have changed to keep it from happening again,” Mrs. Lambert said. “You are not supposed to go from the jail to the grave.”
The Georgetown Times tried to get comments from SLED. Spokesman Thom Berry was asked, among other things, about the status of the investigation. He was also asked why has the family not been questioned about Mr. Lambert’s mental attitude in the days leading up to the suicide and why the family has not been asked about the letter they received from Mr. Lambert.
“SLED does have an open and ongoing investigation into this case. It would be inappropriate to discuss any specifics about the case while the investigation is underway,” Berry responded.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Lambert said the family continues to wait for answers.
“It would be the right thing for someone to tell us something about the investigation. We are the parents. They should tell us something,” Mrs. Lambert said.
By Scott Harper
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