DENTON, Md. (AP) — The family of a man found dead under a bridge a week after he was released from jail on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is blaming the detention facility for contributing to his death.
The family of Scott deNagy, 49, say they believe a lack of communication and a lack of an inmate-release plan at the Caroline County jail played a part in deNagy’s death this month. DeNagy’s body was found under a bridge in Denton on Jan. 19, a week after he was released from the jail. Police say there were no signs of foul play.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Maryland: 932 New Cases Reported, 11 More Deaths
Ruth Colbourne, the jail’s warden, said she and the jail staff are sorry deNagy died, but that corrections officials aren’t allowed to inform family of an inmate’s release date. That’s up to individual inmates, Colbourne told The Star Democrat, (http://bit.ly/1zFi7jx ).
Online court records show deNagy had been serving time in jail after he pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property.
DeNagy’s sister, Tracy Lea of Taneytown, said her brother suffered from mental illness and substance abuse issues that began after he was injured more than 15 years ago.
Lea said things had been looking up for deNagy in the past year after he finally got medical treatment and medication after the nation’s new health care law went into effect. While in jail, DeNagy also got medication to control diabetes, high blood pressure, and for the first time in his life, depression, Lea said.
Lea had been working with a mental health clinic to assess deNagy ahead of his release to come up with a treatment plan and had secured a bed for him at a mental health recovery program in the area.
But then deNagy was released from jail earlier than expected, learning on Jan. 9 that he’d be released on Jan. 12.
DeNagy’s family said that upon his release, he chose not to call them.READ MORE: 'An Incredible Therapy' | Hagerstown Doctor Says Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Provides Fast Recoveries For Some COVID Patients
Instead, deNagy walked from the jail to the Maryland Department of Human Resources and said he needed a ride to the Salvation Army homeless shelter in Dorchester County.
Lea said officials the agency offered deNagy a free bus token to get to Cambridge, but he didn’t want to take it. DeNagy then left the office, and that was the last known time he was seen alive.
His family members say they felt more should have been done to make sure deNagy made it somewhere safe.
“How do you put a guy to the curb when they know his family members are actively seeking beds?” John deNagy said. “We can do better than this — just putting a guy out without any kind of mechanism in place to help with his landing.”
Although corrections officials may not notify anyone of an inmate’s release, Colbourne said the jail bought shoes and socks for deNagy and allowed him to call relatives after his mother died on Nov. 24 while he was being held in jail.
“I brought him out myself and personally let him call his brother in California so they could speak,” Colbourne said. “That was also at the cost of the jail.”
“Everyone — staff and inmates at this detention center — are extremely sorry with regard to the demise of Mr. deNagy,” she said.
DeNagy’s was the sixth and youngest child of the late Georges and Florence deNagy. The couple adopted him when he was about 2 years old, and the family lived in Federalsburg.
Information from: The Star Democrat of Easton, Md., http://www.stardem.com
(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)