Quantcast

Mother's grief over son's suicide in Vt. prison - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Mother's grief over son's suicide in Vt. prison

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

"He would give anybody the shirt off his back," Ellie Jimmo said.

Jimmo will never forget the last conversation with her son.

"It breaks my heart," she said.

R.J. Mossey called his mom from the state prison in Newport, where he was being held on a theft charge. The phone call lasted just one minute, but Jimmo says that was enough time to know that something was terribly wrong.

"It's just like he knew," she said. "And he was calling to say goodbye."

Mossey hanged himself with a bed sheet in a prison bathroom broom closet the next day.

"I'll miss our talks," Jimmo said, crying.

R.J. Mossey had a history with addiction, namely prescription pills and crack. His petty crimes were all drug-related.

"He wasn't a bad boy, but because of the drugs, he made a lot of bad choices," Jimmo said.

His mom says he had a history of depression, too, that prison officials in Newport knew about.

"This isn't or wasn't R.J.'s first rodeo up there," Jimmo said.

Now, she wants to know if his mental health needs were being met, if prison officials missed the warning signs, and how he managed to get into the mop closet to kill himself.

"I find it really hard to believe that the ones who really know him couldn't start to see the change in him," she said.

"All of those things need to be looked at to be certain there wasn't any employee misconduct," Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said.

Pallito says three separate investigations will try to answer those questions and if another person helped facilitate Mossey's suicide.

"That closet was supposed to be locked other than during cleaning times. We have some concerns about how he was able to gain access to that closet," Pallito said. "Was a staff member involved or was another resident involved?"

Mossey's suicide is the first in Vermont prisons since 2004. That's when Corrections went through a major overhaul. Officers now get more training to spot suicidal inmates. Mental health experts now work at prisons. And some cells are furnished with beds, tables, lights and vents to make it harder for prisoners to hang themselves.

Despite a spike in inmates with acute mental health issues trying to hurt themselves, the number of near-fatal suicide attempts dropped to three in 2012, down from eight the year before.

"It is almost unheard of for a system to go this long without a suicide," Pallito said.

Reporter Darren Perron: How did R.J. Mossey slip through the cracks?

Andy Pallito: We have a series of investigations to learn what we could have done better... Our track record is amazing, but we have individuals in our custody that have a whole host of issues.

"Any parent, brother, sister with someone in the system, and if they sound depressed, don't let it go," Ellie Jimmo advised.

Jimmo wishes she had pressured the prison more to make sure her son was OK, but says it's ultimately up to Corrections to keep inmates safe. And she would give anything for one more day with R.J.

"I'll miss telling him, 'remember your guardian angels,'" she said. "That's how I end my conversation with all of my boys, 'Don't forget your guardian angels.'"

Related Story:

The dark history of a Vt. prison cemetery

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • 2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:52 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:52:13 GMT
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
  • Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:26 GMT
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
  • Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:59:21 GMT
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
  • Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:52 GMT
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
  • Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:16 GMT
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
  • Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:32:03 GMT
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
  • Body discovered in Massena

    Body discovered in Massena

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:02:43 GMT
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
  • Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:54:21 GMT

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.