A heartbroken Bronx family says their 22-year-old son, who was serving prison time, died and was buried without them ever knowing. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
With tears rolling down his face, Lonnie Hamilton says he's living a nightmare. His namesake died in prison and was even buried without the family knowing it.
Hamilton: I want to know why my son is dead. I want to know why you buried him without asking me. I want to know why we weren't allowed to properly send him off.
Meminger: Where is your son's body?
Hamilton: I don't know.
Lonnie Hamilton, 22, was doing time at Marcy Correctional Facility, outside of Syracuse. He was convicted in the Bronx of robbery.
His family says they tried to reach him for several weeks and then decided to send him a letter. Looking for his prison's address on May 6, they went on the state's correctional website. They were shocked to see he was listed as deceased. He died on March 18.
"I'm thinking, 'This can't be right. It has to be some sort of typo or joke or whatever.' So we start reaching out to the facility" his father said. "Days later, they finally say he is deceased."
And he was already buried in a cemetery near the prison.
State Corrections tells NY1 it made several unsuccessful attempts to reach the inmate's next of kin, his father. They said the father's phone number didn't work.
Corrections say it also searched Hamilton's belongings for contacts but couldn't find any. They also reached out to police in Georgia, where Hamilton was originally from.
His father says he is easy to find because he's lived in the Bronx for many years and that's where his son was arrested.
"He was picked up, my doorstep. Knock on my door, 'Is your son here?' Taken out of my home," he said. "So they knew where I lived."
"They have nothing in writing at all to date that says their son is deceased. They have no autopsy report of how their son died. They don't know anything," said the Rev. Kevin McCall of the National Action Network.
The family says they were unofficially told their son committed suicide, but they find that hard to believe. They want his body exhumed and their own autopsy done. They are also calling for an independent investigation.