Family wants answers after mom dies in Wayne County Jail

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The family of a woman who died inside the Wayne County Jail was told she went into cardiac arrest. But they believe the conditions inside the jail are what led to her death. 

During our recent heat wave, the air conditioning broke down inside the jail. The family says 59-year-old Martha Stanley had a heart condition and called them in the morning complaining it was so hot in jail she could hardly breathe.

"It was hot outside," said Arthur Simpson, Stanley's son. "I saw them take her. And within 48 hours later, she is dead inside the jail. What happened? That's what I want to know."

Simpson says the family was doing their best to get their mom out of the Wayne County Jail.

They say she suffered from a heart condition and was struggling. She didn't have her heart medication and was in the process of detoxing from drugs. On top of that, she called home to say the Wayne County Jail facilities no longer had working air conditioning and she was struggling to breathe.

"I was coming down here to meet with their family, they called me to tell them they were on their way with the money," said Joel Sexton, A-1 Bail Bonds. 

As they were on the way to meet Sexton to bail their mother out of jail, they received another phone call. Martha Stanley had died from cardiac arrest.

When you have a weather condition and the cooling system in the jail isn't working like it should be and it's hot like that, and you have people with heat exhaustion, you can't breathe right, what can you do?" Simpson said. "You ask them and you don't get it, then what do you do."

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office confirms the inmate, who they claim was booked last night, died less than 12 hours later.

Authorities say Stanley suffered from a previous medical condition. The Wayne County Administration says it's aware of the issues with the HVAC system and maintenance is currently working to fix the problems, but they do not believe the lack of air conditioning played a role in her death.

Another woman FOX 2 talked with says her son, too, called her from jail complaining about the sweltering heat and lack of water -conditions she calls inhumane.

"In this country? Innocent until proven guilty," she said. "I feel that no one should go without water, without the air conditioning because this is 90-degree weather."

The Wayne County Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy on Stanley. In the meantime, the family feels her death could have been prevented.

"She needed medical treatment and she didn't get it clearly," said Simpson.

We've been told the Wayne County Sheriff's Office is working to get portable air conditioners into the facility until the HVAC system is fixed.