BUTNER, N.C. (WNCN) — A family who had no idea their loved one died while in a North Carolina prison said they received an apology from federal prison officials.
Fabian Tinsley died from COVID-19 in April while serving time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner. Now five months later, his family said his body will be sent to Washington to be buried.
“My father, he’s not going to be at peace until his brother’s home,” said Tinsley’s niece Regina Febuary.
Febuary said prison officials called her family Friday to apologize and tell them Tinsley’s body was embalmed and buried near the prison in Butner.
“I was at a loss for words. I started crying because I didn’t know what to do or what to say,” Febuary said.
Tinsley’s family said they only learned about his passing after seeing a CBS 17 report.
“If you wouldn’t have asked questions for us, we would have never gotten any answers,” said Febuary.
It’s still unclear why Tinsley’s family wasn’t notified about his death.
Febuary and her sister said they reached out to the prison several times before Tinsley’s passing, but paperwork containing information about his next of kin was inaccurate and incomplete.
“It’s still a lot of questions, and we’re not getting the right answers,” she said.
Febuary is waiting to hear from the prison officials when they will transport Tinsley’s body to a funeral home in Washington.
She said her family needs to examine the body before they can bury him in a plot next to his father and mother, but they are struggling to raise the nearly $7,000 necessary.
CBS 17 reached out to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to learn about the process of notifying the family of an who has passed.
After several requests to speak with prison officials, a BOP spokesperson said Tuesday that Tinsley’s family had been notified.
They have not clarified when, or with whom they spoke.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Tinsley had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions and went into respiratory failure on April 6.
He was transported to a local hospital where tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on a ventilator when his condition declined.
He died April 16. Tinsley was serving a 23-year sentence for kidnapping and assault charges in Washington, according to officials.