‘I couldn’t even say my last goodbyes’: Family not notified of Butner Prison inmate’s death

Local News

BUTNER, N.C. (WNCN)– The family of an inmate at Butner Prison says they had no idea he died from COVID-19 back in April.

Fabian Tinsley, 67, was the fifth Butner Prison inmate death related to COVID-19. 

His family says they only learned about his passing this month, and still don’t know where his remains are.

“I couldn’t even say my last goodbyes. I don’t even know where he’s at. My father didn’t have any body else on that side,” said Tinsley’s niece Regina Febuary.

Tinsley’s brother, Reginald Tinsley, and Febuary say they hadn’t seen him since his arrest in Washington, D.C. several years ago.  

Febuary says they tried to get in contact with him after his transfer to Butner in 2018.

“That’s not the first time we’ve reached out to Butner to try and get some information on him or anything. They wouldn’t give us any information,” she said.

On Tuesday, Febuary says she called the prison again to try and locate her uncle.

“They told us he basically he was never there. They don’t know who he is,” she said.

Frustrated, Febuary’s sister started searching online and found a CBS 17 report from April 17 stating that Tinsley died.

Tinsley’s family says they still haven’t received any information from the prison about his remains.

“We don’t know where his body is located, what they did with him,” said Febuary.  “They did have some type of contact and paperwork on him and his family. They could have contacted us.”

A search of the Federal Bureau of Prisons database only lists that Tinsley is deceased.
Tinsley’s family says they are the only living next of kin. 

They say after not being able to visit him while he was at Butner, they want to bury him in Washington, D.C. alongside his mother and father.

“I want to try to give him some peace,” said Reginald Tinsley.

CBS 17 reached out to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to learn if an attempt to reach Tinsley’s family was made, but have not heard back.

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 on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Tinsley was serving a 23-year sentence from crimes in Washington, D.C., according to officials.

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