Army Veteran Died In Police Custody In 2018, Family Still Looking For His Missing Organs

Army Veteran Died In Police Custody In 2018, Family Still Looking For His Missing Organs

Everett Palmer's body was returned to his family without his heart, throat and brain in 2018. While the family is still looking for answers...

Everett Palmer Jr., a 41-year-old U.S. Army veteran, had called his brother to let him know he was visiting their sick mother in New York. He only had to settle an outstanding DUI warrant in Pennsylvania to make his license valid. 

According to CNN, two days after calling his brother, Palmer's family received the news that Everett had died in police custody at York County Prison. Moreover, the family's horror was only intensified when they learned that Everett's mortal remains were returned without his heart, throat, and brain. 


The Palmers had received the news of his death on April 9, 2018. Fourteen months later, the Palmers say they still don't know what really happened. "This entire case smacks of a cover-up," civil rights attorney Lee Merritt told CNN by phone. 

Merritt says prison and county officials have not been cooperative with providing an official manner of death. 


Moreover, an initial autopsy by the York County Coroner's Office stated Palmer died after an incident "following an excited state" during which he "began hitting his head against the inside of his cell door" and was restrained. The report says Palmer became agitated as a result of "methamphetamine toxicity." A probable "sickling red cell disorder" as listed as a contributing factor. 


According to his family, Palmer never had any health problems leading up to his death. They also say the autopsy report of him hitting himself is completely out of character. 

The York County Coroner's Office updated its autopsy results on July 28, 2018, to include a manner of death, which is listed as "undetermined." The autopsy report says details of the autopsy may be corrected as more information becomes available. 


According to York County Coroner Pam Gay, the organs were removed for a forensic autopsy. Palmer’s family did not know the body was missing the organs until they hired their own forensic pathologist. 


“There were never any missing organs,” Gay said. “The lab that does our autopsies has the organs. Coroner’s offices don’t always have a morgue or a forensic pathologist. We contract those services out. We utilize a team in Allentown. That’s who retains the specimens. They don’t always tell us what they retain. We made that clear to the family from the beginning.”


While Merritt agrees the practice is standard, he’s still flummoxed by misinformation over the location of the organs. Palmer’s family was unable to track down the organs for seven months before they were told to check with the funeral home, which hadn’t touched the body.


Later, the coroner told them the organs were at an independent lab. The lab, for its part, has refused to hand over the parts, citing an ongoing investigation.

Everett Palmer’s brother, Dwayne, was the last family member to speak to the vet, described as the “life of the family.”

“We don’t believe anything [authorities] are telling us at this point,” he said. “It’s a tremendous loss for our family. We are devastated.”

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