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Timothy Thomas, 43
Lake Butler, Florida
April 02, 2018

Agencies: Florida Department of Corrections

Last updated: 10 months ago

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All anyone really knows is inmate Timothy Thomas was very much alive on March 30 when he told an officer he didn’t want to go to breakfast — an act of defiance that would ultimately get him transferred to the confinement wing at Reception and Medical Center (RMC), a state prison in Lake Butler. What happened after that is a mystery, until April 2, when Thomas left confinement in a body bag, dead at age 43.

Thomas was one of at least 145 prisoners to die in Florida prisons so far this year, a shocking number even for a state with one of the highest rates of inmate mortality in the country. Florida prisons ' mortality rate has surpassed even Texas, which is not known for coddling convicts.

Thomas was serving a life sentence for armed robbery and was known to have some health problems. But a medical examination performed when Thomas was transferred to confinement that Friday in March confirmed he was healthy upon entry. And a housing log shows Thomas spent the rest of his life in administrative confinement — a part of the prison where he would have limited access to other inmates, and would have been under the watchful eye of guards at almost all times.

The cause of Thomas’ death is under official investigation, which often takes months if not years to conclude. So family members ordered their own autopsy, performed parallel to the medical examiner's report, whose results remain under wraps. Although the cause of death from the private autopsy has not yet been released, fresh bruises and lacerations on Thomas’ body visible in photos suggest he had recently been beaten.