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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Dade Correctional Institute. It is considered by many as one of Florida’s most troubled prisons.
The institution was where inmate Darren Rainey died. Three years after his death, an ongoing investigation is still looking accusations that he was locked in a hot shower.
Now another inmate has died there and his family says it is desperate for answers.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation into the death of 45-year old Anthony Vidal who died in the early morning of March 11th.
According to his stunned family, the allegation at the center of their concerns is that he was strangled to death by another inmate.
“Horrifying” is how Benny Tavarez, Vidal’s younger brother, describes what the family is going through.
“This is two weeks later and the only thing they have told us is that he was strangled. but they have not told us how and they didn’t tell us where. I am very dumbfounded about how somebody could be strangled in prison,” he told CBS4 Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen.
CBS4 News obtained the verification of death report indicating that the probable manner of death was homicide and that the cause of death is mechanical asphyxia, a condition that can include strangulation.
Vidal, who grew up in Miami and worked in the construction industry, was serving a 15 year sentence for charges including burglary. He was set to be released, according to his family, in less than three years.
Tavarez said the family is sorry there will be no opportunity for him to be free once again and have another shot at life and connecting with his loved ones.
“I do not trust the system especially with everything that has been going on with that prison,” said Tavarez.
The State of Florida confirmed to CBS4 News that Vidal’s death is under active investigation. Following an autopsy conducted by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiners Office, the body was released to the family.
On Monday, the family held a viewing of their loved one. They said they held off of cremating his body because of concerns they might never see a county autopsy report.
David Sampedro is the family attorney.
“They are a family of humble means. They don’t have the funds to pay for a private autopsy so while they have to rely on the system, on certain institutions they also have their doubts about how accurate and complete that investigation is going to be,” Sampedro told Gillen.
In the death of another inmate at the DCI, a mentally ill inmate named Darren Rainey, who died after he was allegedly locked in a hot shower, it’s been more than three years and the autopsy report has not been publicly released. It has also not been shared with his family because the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said it is still reviewing the case.
Meanwhile the Department of Corrections and FDLE say they can not discuss in any detail this case which they describe as open and active.
The Department of Corrections, however, did issue the following statement:
On Friday, March 11, inmate Anthony Vidal (431632) died as the result of an apparent inmate-on-inmate altercation while incarcerated at Dade Correctional Institution. In the event of an inmate death, the medical examiner will determine the cause of death. Following this incident, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was notified and has become the lead investigatory authority in this case. The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) Office of Inspector General (OIG)is proactively working with FDLE to provide investigatory assistance. The Department will employ all available resources to ensure that a thorough investigation is completed. As this is an open and active criminal investigation, this is all of the information available at this time.
Family members say that it is their understanding the an audio tape exists that captures the last moments of their loved ones life. They say they hope to soon learn answers as to how and why he died.