A man arrested for not changing his address with his probation officer died in jail three days later. Lee Michael Creely, 34, was on probation for a drug possession offense. He had moved into a new home with his girlfriend, Jessica Hodges, and their sons, ages 7 and 12, just three weeks earlier.
On September 3, he was arrested for a felony probation violation. His probation officer did not know of his new address. Creely had been arrested for drug possession in 2018 and 2019.
Three nights later, Creely was found unresponsive in his jail cell. He was on his bed, fists already clenched in rigor mortis and with a blue face and hands. Creely was on daily medication to assist him in withdrawal from heroin and benzodiazepines. The jail’s medical provider, CorrectHealth LLC, gave him the medication just once in the four days he was incarcerated.
Deputy Falsifies Reports
Deputies at the Chatham County Jail are supposed to make inmate rounds every 30 minutes. That did not happen while Creely was behind bars.
Within days of Creely’s death, five deputies at the Chatham County Jail were fired and one arrested. Deputy Terrence Jackson was arrested after it was determined that he falsified reports when stating he had made his rounds ten times. In fact, a review of the surveillance video showed that he did nothing but sit at his desk during the period in question.
Nurses Violate Protocols
The deputies were not the only employees derelict in their duty. It appears CorrectHealth nurses did not check Creely’s vitals after his second day in jail. This violates company protocols. Before Creely’s corpse was discovered, the nurses had not visited his cell in two days.
Healthcare specialists investigating the situation noted that suddenly stopping benzodiazepines can result in seizures. Heroin withdrawal without supervision often leads to dehydration.
Heart Missing After Autopsy
Creely’s family has plenty of questions about what happened to their loved one, but they are not receiving answers. The official cause of death was listed as fentanyl intoxication.
The family lawyer claims they wanted an independent autopsy performed – but that was not possible because parts of Creely’s heart was missing after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) medical examiner’s autopsy. The GBI has not informed the attorney where the heart parts are located. The lawyer said the family has only learned details about Creely’s death via the media, not through the GBI or other channels.
A History of Poor Care
CorrectHealth won the contract to provide inmate care for Chatham County in 2016. The following year, an independent monitor recommended that the county fine the company $5.2 million for “lapses in staffing and medical care.” The county did nothing, but CorrectHealth did receive an additional $500,000 bonus during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Between 2014 and 2018, CorrectHealth was sued 79 times by other counties in which it had contracts. The plaintiffs in these cases alleged denial of care and lack of pain treatment.
Hodges said the jail was aware that Creely was going through withdrawal. “They were aware of the fact that Lee was going through withdrawal, which can be very dangerous and life-threatening if not treated,” she said, adding that instead of treating him, they let him die. “I think they need to be held accountable for that.”