Portsmouth Ohio: Money For Ashes
Kevin Bailey’s heartbroken sister, Karen Skaggs is waiting on justice. Her brother died seven weeks ago from injuries sustained in an incident at the Scioto County Jail. It took six weeks before she could pick up her brother’s ashes. But there was a catch. Skaggs had to hand over the money raised to pay for Bailey’s memorial service to the City of Portsmouth first.
Kevin Bailey was a homeless drug addict and his sister didn’t have enough money to pay for a funeral. Skaggs told me she had a simple plan, “I was going to pay to have my dad’s grave opened and put Kevin’s ashes in with him.”
The amount of money raised to assist with Kevin Bailey’s burial was small, just $250. Compare that to the over $14 million dollars raised in memory of another man who died in police custody, George Floyd, and it isn’t much at all. But Karen said the City of Portsmouth wanted all of the money raised. Karen had already spent $100 to have Justice For Kevin t-shirts made but was told she had to turn over the remaining $150 to claim her brother’s ashes. ” I was very upset because we had already planned on having a small family gathering at the grave. So we had to cancel that. Now I will have to try to save up to get the grave opened.”
She showed me this receipt from the City Manager’s office. While the receipt said she made a donation to the city’s indigent burial fund, Skaggs tells me the donation wasn’t voluntary. The city specifically demanded the money raised in Kevin’s name.
A Long Wait
Kevin Bailey was injured at the Scioto County Jail on May 26. Bailey was transported to a Columbus hospital and later died. His sister told us he suffered a fractured skull and broken ribs. Multiple sources from inside the jail came forward to claim that Bailey was assaulted by jail guards for being mouthy. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation took over the investigation. Bailey’s body was sent to Montgomery County for autopsy and Karen began her long wait.
Karen said she had no say in how her brother’s remains were handled. “They said the city had an indigency plan for cremation but then wanted the donation money. And he isn’t even in an urn. Just a plastic bag in a black plastic box.”
Karen said she is frustrated and tired of waiting. “I am physically and mentally exhausted. I still have nightmares. It’s just not fair. My brother has been gone 50 days and that monster is still walking around free.”
She’s not the only one who’s tired. I spoke with Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman. Just like Karen, he’s been waiting nearly two months to get the final results of the investigation from Ohio’s BCI. His office can’t decide how to proceed with a potential prosecution without them. Tieman said, “Very frustrating to say the least, but we are still waiting on BCI to submit the case.”
I contacted the BCI to ask if they had any idea of when the final report would be ready for the prosecutor. Here’s what a spokesman told me,”The Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s investigation remains ongoing. As such, I cannot provide a timeline for its completion.”