Mom upset after learning of son’s prison death on Facebook

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The pain of not knowing what happened to her son is too much to bear for one Richmond mother. Janice Yellardy said her family was stunned to learn of her son Samah’s death through other inmates and their families via Facebook.

Janice says when her sister was notified through Facebook last Friday, she called the prison for answers.

“She called Powhatan and they said 'yes, he passed away,'” Yellardy explained.

Yellardy said their family has been contacted by several inmates and eventually a corrections officer who was on duty at the prison on November 7,  the day Samah died.

An officer claiming to be from the Powhatan Correctional Center reached out to CBS 6 with claims the facility was trying to cover up Samah Yellardy’s death and that video cameras recorded the incident.

The Department of Corrections and officials declined to comment, and cited an ongoing investigation and inmate privacy.

Yellardy said she asked the warden about accounts that prior to his death,  her son begged for medical help for severe pains in his side.

“He said we gave him fluids and the fluids didn’t work,” Yellardy said. She does not believe the preliminary report given to her by prison administrators, she added.

“My son complained about his side, not his heart. It ain’t right. The warden told me he had a massive heart attack and I said no sir, my son did not have a heart attack. My son was 29 years old and had no medical problems,” she said.

She said to make matters worse, it has been five days since her son died and she has yet to see his body. She said there are too many questions and she won’t stop until she gets answers.

So far, she said no one from the prison has been able to provide for her the time of her son’s death, or the circumstances surrounding how soon he received medical treatment.

Yellardy said administrators haven’t revealed to her who pronounced her son dead. She said  she’s also frustrated that there are conflicting reports on whether or not Samah was ever taken from the Powhatan Correctional Center to the hospital.

She said she was also told that she wouldn’t be able to retrieve her son’s personal belongings for 60 days. Yellardy said every day the question of whether the prison followed proper procedures haunts her.

“They messed with the wrong one. If I have to fight until the day I die, I’m going to get justice for my son,” Yellardy vowed.

Prison officials declined to comment but did send CBS 6 News its operating procedures on how inmates can access health services. They also sent their policy on notifying families about an inmate’s death.

Samah Yellardy was serving time on a grand larceny conviction. His mother said he was in the sixth year of his sentence and was to be released in 14 months.

CBS 6 News checked in with the state medical examiner’s office about the cause and manner of death for Samah Yellardy and we were told that the results are still pending.


    • K

      Wow. Seriously Jim? That’s all you got from this article. A young man died. Regardless of his crime, I would think that the fact that a healthy man died and that the family wasn’t told immediately would be the bigger take-away here. Good grief.

      • Carmen Borden

        that’s horrible. this happened not long ago to another inmate, a young 20 yr old i believe. he turned himself in for a marajuna charge, simple possession. he died after asking about his meal that he may get an allergic reaction to, when he asked if it contained milk they ignored him. he tasted it and sure enough it did, he complained telling them he needed help, they ignored him and he died right there. all caught on camera. the worst part is, a week or 2 after turning himself in, it (weed) became legal. my heart goes out to both of these parents.

    • midwest2

      You made an excellent point. I work in a prison, and my first question was, “How did those inmates contact the family to notify them of the death?” And I also wondered about the Facebook access. Sounds like a poorly run facility. And even if there are general medical procedures, emergencies do not require that an offender go through all those steps to receive attention. The family should have been notified immediately. There is a cover-your-backside situation going on there, and I hope the family does get the answers it seeks – but that will be difficult. I’m sure a lot has already happened that will ensure that the truth doesn’t see the light of day.

      • shraon

        Thank you for telling the truth about how it is in prison. The prison system is sometimes worse then the ones it holds.

  • peggy burgess

    pretty messed up that a prison can do that to a person! He did not receive the death sentence. he only stole a car. I hope they can charge the Warden with murder. He’s the one who should get the death penalty and be ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS CRIME! I am so sorry for your loss! My prayers are with you.

  • Betsey Buracker

    This is just an OUTRAGE! This should not have happened! This was a good young man that made a mistake and was paying for his crime! He didn’t deserve to be treated like he was less than human! The conditions these guys live in and the things they have to deal with everyday is just terrible! Yes ,they broke the law, BUT they are paying the price for that and they should be treated Dignity and respect!!

  • smcrooks

    Conditions they live in are terrible? By becoming a prisoner and breaking the law, you lose your rights as a citizen. They live better than most citizens who do right by the law. Internet, cable, electricity, shelter, and 3 meals a day?? These are the reasons that the majority of criminals continue to break the law, they go to jail and prison and never have to worry about food, shelter, or paying bills! The only faults from this story here is that the Corrections facility failed by not notifying next of kin immediately of his death and allowing inmates to use Facebook! Also, the mother needs to be educated on heart attacks, age is not an exception, kids die of heart attacks? She may not have known of any medical problems and some heart problems are undetectable without EKG’s and ultrasounds (i.e. W,P, & W).

  • Cheryl

    That is how the prison saves money. They refuse medical treatment. They will send you to the DR, but then the DR will tell them, I can diagnose you but we can’t treat you because the prison will not pay. If we treat you, we have to treat everyone. Even if you put money on the inmate’s account, they will still not treat them. This is first hand knowledge.

  • Mardy's friend

    The people asking how the inmates had access to Facebook are stupid..the inmates didn’t have access to Facebook they called home to their families and their families started posting it on Facebook and his family saw it. Mardy I pray you RIP and also that your mom get all the answers that she is seeking.

  • kim jackson

    I know first hand its hard to get medical attention while incarcerated. I’ve been through it.So its not nobody making up anything its true.My prayers go out to the family and I hope she get answers.I hope somebody pays for her son’s death.

  • Morning Dew

    Jim-I assumed that families of inmates posted on Facebook. The inmates do have visitors and know each other.

  • Claire Tuite

    please join us at the march against mass incarceration this saturday. Details can be found at or by searching march against mass incarceration on FB.

  • TiredofBS

    His mother should get an attorney go get the tapes get the death report go get the body let a real dr due a autopsy and get that warden and put his arse behind bars now get some of that

  • Pam Sano

    The Va Prison system and Im sure others is more corrupt than the inmates they house. The guards are hungery for power and the inmates have no one to go to except other guards. These guards use the Loyalty To Their Fellow Officers , they think they are cops!! I don’t know what the answer is because the govenors office actually told my husband they have no say in the prison system. Now how does the Governor have the power to stop an execution but has no power to STOP THE BEATING AND MiSTREATMENT of HUMAN BEINGS. We scream about prisoners in another country having rights ? Is it because our FELONS WILL NOT EVER BE ABLE TO CAST A VOTE ??? I know we are not the only family dealing with these fears every day ?? Is My son going to survive his time or will he be another INCIDENT !!

  • Pam Sano

    One last comment I do hold the media responsible, YOU KNOW THE POWER YOU HAVE ! Yet still you just refuse to write the story. My son was beaten about his head in Riverside Regional Jail and when we contacted the media , they just couldn’t get involved. I hope Ms. Yellarly realizes you are not her friend. You can make a difference to 1000’s of prisioners but the voters and the goverment says you should leave it alone and you do ! Shame ON YOU !

  • Cookie

    The prison system in VA does not and never will care for the inmates that they house. My son who is an inmate in VA had an incident and was in extreme pain and was ignored by the COs in his pod. Finally 1 of the other inmates called me telling me what happened and I called the prison and was advised by the CO was answered the phone that my son was a grown man and that me calling the prison will not speed up the process of getting to him. If anything it will anger them and make them take their time. When I requested to speak with the Watch Commander they dropped the call. I continued to call and everytime I was placed on hold for long periods of time. In all honestly the only time that the COs care about an inmate is when its going to benefit them, via by money or sexual favors… Its a shame that these people are hired with intent to watch over other human beings….

Comments are closed.