Secret Incarceration and Death of Mentally Ill Heart Patient in Shelby County, Tennessee Jail While that Facility Was Supervised by United States Justice Department; and
Cover-up of Same by The Cochran Firm While Pretending, Under Contract, to Represent Decedent’s Family
This website is dedicated to resolving the mystery of my brother’s death and to improving the lives of similarly disabled Americans. Larry Neal was a mentally ill heart patient who was secretly arrested in mid-July 2003 and detained until his death on August 1, 2003, in Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tennessee. Larry spent most of his life from early childhood (age 9 through his mid-20’s) in Western State Mental Hospital in Bolivar, Tennessee. As you may know, during the 1970’s, many such institutions were closed or no longer kept mental patients who presented no apparent threat to the public. After release from Western State, Larry was arrested numerous times for misdemeanors connected with his handicap, paranoid schizophrenia. His family’s requests to the State of Tennessee that Larry be readmitted to an inpatient mental health facility were not granted except on a temporary basis from time to time for crisis intervention. The last ten years of his life, Larry suffered from severe respiratory problems and a heart condition that necessitated prescription drugs for his survival. During the 18 days of Larry’s final incarceration, his family and State-appointed social worker searched for him as a missing person. The jail falsely and repeatedly reported that neither Larry Neal nor a John Doe meeting his physical description was incarcerated in that facility. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Larry received none of his vital prescription heart and psychiatric drugs during incarceration, which likely caused his death, despite the fact that:
- Larry had suffered contemporaneous arrests in that very same facility for misdemeanors related to his mental illness, with the last arrest only two weeks prior to the incarceration that killed him;
- Memphis police had supplied emergency transport to mental hospitals for emergency treatment during Larry’s psychotic episodes for more than 20 years; and
- Memphis police were fully aware of Larry’s heart condition and had contact information for his social worker, who was usually called when Larry was arrested on public nuisance charges, panhandling, and the like.
Prior to Larry’s final incarceration, whenever he was arrested on public nuisance charges and other misdemeanors related to his handicap, the police would contact his social worker or family and Larry would be released into their care. Given the long history Larry had with Memphis Police, it is impossible for Larry’s family to believe that Shelby County Jail did not know that Larry was under arrest during the nearly three weeks that his family agonized over his whereabouts. The police repeatedly denied having Larry and did nothing to help search for this mentally ill heart patient precisely because police knew that no search was necessary. Fingerprinting for accurate identification is a routine part of arrest procedures. Yet, Larry’s family was allowed to spend weeks looking for Larry while he suffered and died in jail. One would assume that police became weary of their enforced role as caretaker to this mentally ill man who would stand and sing loud on street corners, bother pedestrians for handouts, eat in grocery stores without paying first, etc.