Was the September 2009 in-custody jail death of Tracy Veira properly investigated by the Volusia County Sheriff Department?

Were documents attached to this death falsified by jail or sheriff department officials?

Did a conflict of interest influence the mishandling of this death investigation?

Why does the FDLE refuse to investigate?

September 24, 2011
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored"- Aldous Huxley

UPDATES September 24, 2011
VolusiaExposed sent the following email to FDLE Supervisor Banks on Sept. 20th, 2011 requesting FDLE to investigate the Tracey Veira situation
Click here -VolusiaExposed Sept. 20th email to Agent Danny Banks

Agent Banks sent the following reply email on Sept. 23, 2011 stating that FDLE will not investigate
Click here -FDLE Agent Danny Banks' email reply to VolusiaExposed.Com

VolusiaExposed.Com supplied Agent Banks with the following reply
Click here - VolusiaExposed.Com's response to Agent Banks




Tracy Veira was a 28 year old mother of two young children, on September 16, 2009, she died sick and alone in a segregation cell at the Volusia County Correctional Facility.

Ms. Veira was assigned to a medical segregation cell so that her medical condition could be closely monitored. She was on special medical watch, meaning that correctional staff were to make documented observations of her every fifteen minutes. These observations are documented on what is commonly known as a VCDC 52 - Inmate Record of Segregation form.

The medical segregation cells (commonly referred to as the "rotunda") are located near the jail officer's work station (approximately ten feet away) in order to facilitate close sight and sound observations of these inmates.

We now invite you to review both the Volusia County Jail's and the Volusia County Sheriff Department's documentation surrounding the events of Ms. Veira's in-custody jail death. During your review, we ask you to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that some Volusia County Jail staff falsified documentation. We also ask you to determine whether there are unanswered questions on whether the VCSO failed to properly process / investigate the events surrounding Ms. Veira's death.

First let's review Ms. Veira's VCDC 52 - Record of Segregation form - what were the jail officers documenting about Ms. Veira shortly before her death?

The VCDC 52 appears to document that at 0158 hrs, Ms. Veira was out of her cell for a shower. Notice the - 1(attitude good),1(appearance good),9 (out for shower)- entry at 0158 hrs. Further notice the following other entries made by correctional staff to Ms. Veira's record of segregation (VCDC 52).

According to the VCDC 52 - at 0833 hrs, Ms. Veira appears to have spoken to the housing unit supervisor (HUS) -- (1,1,28 code entered by employee #494, apparently Sgt. Pendegrass)(see VCDC 52 sheet for numerical code explanations)

However, after Ms. Veira was declared dead (1012 hrs 9-16-2009), Sgt. Pendegrass filed an incident report (commonly known as a VCDC 401 report) on the Veira death. We invite you to read Sgt. Pendegrass' VCDC 401 report - Is Sgt. Pendegrass now denying that she spoke with Ms. Veira at 0833 hrs, as Pendegrass apparently documented on Veira's VCDC 52 - Record of Segregation form?

The VCDC 52 appears to document that at 0845 hrs, Ms. Veira was apparently observed by Officer Gardner # 732 -- "on bunk breathing" -- (3,1,19 code entry). At 0900 hrs, Officer Gardner appears to further document that Ms. Veira was on her "bunk breathing".

However, after Ms. Veira was discovered deceased, Ofc. Gardner submitted an VCDC 401 incident report that now appears to document that Ms. Veira was using the toilet at 0845 hrs, and not "on bunk breathing" as Ofc. Gardner had apparently documented on the VCDC 52. Further, Ofc. Gardner documents within this VCDC 401 Incident Report that at 0900 hrs, she observed Ms. Veira standing at her cell door, rather then being on her "bunk breathing". Such an observation is of investigative significance being that in less than an hour, Ms. Veira is going to be declared dead and shortly thereafter be observed by VCSO Major Case and Medical Examiner investigators with signs of lividity and rigor mortis not apparently consistent with Ms. Veira being able to be standing at her cell door at 0900 hrs. Kinda gives new meaning to the term - "Dead man walking" don't you think?

Officer Gardner did receive an "oral reprimand" for "making incorrect numerical entries on the VCDC Segregation Records of Inmate Tracy Veira". Why did Officer Gardner only receive an "oral reprimand" for making these "incorrect" entries? Was her level of disciplinary action linked to the possibility of the jail working short of staff? Was the jail administration keenly aware that these safety rounds were just being "paper whipped" instead of actually be done? We are unsure, but in Investigator Campanella's final report he appears to support his investigative conclusions on the alleged facts documented in the VCDC 52 and VDC 401 reports. Was Investigator Campanella made aware of the "inconsistent" entries? If not, then how reliable is Campanella's investigative conclusion?


Not only does it appear that the Volusia County Sheriff Department failed to properly investigate the events surrounding Inmate Veira's death, but the FDLE apparently also doesn't care that jail officers might have falsified their documentation.

VolusiaExposed.Com made a public record request for any and all investigative records FDLE produced in their investigations into these in-custody jail deaths.

Click here - to review VolusiaExposed.Com's August 5, 2011 public record request to the FDLE

FDLE sent us the below email response stating that no such records exist of any FDLE investigations into the Veira or Wooley deaths. In short, FDLE did NOT investigate these matters.

Click here - to review FDLE's response that no records exist of any investigations into the deaths of either Inmate Veira or Wooley

VolusiaExposed.Com is left wondering why FDLE can investigate several Orlando police officers for possibly falsifying their reports, but apparently refuses to investigate our concerns.
FDLE investigates inconsistencies in Orlando officers account of shooting.

Further, in March 2010, a contractual employee ( Damion Hall ) of the Florida Department of Children and Family was arrested by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office with investigative assistance of FDLE for falsifying his safety / wellbeing rounds on children assigned to his case load. Why is it apparently illegal for a DCF worker to falsify his rounds, but correctional staff can apparently falsify their safety rounds records with no criminal liability attached? Don't the records support that such falsification exists in the Veira and possibly Wooley deaths? Shouldn't law enforcement and correctional officers be held to at least the same standards as Mr. Hall? Please see the attached record of Mr. Hall's arrest -- due to the ongoing criminal case against Mr. Hall, the investigative records surrounding his arrest are not yet open to public records release.

The Damion Hall incident

VolusiaExposed decided to investigate whether it is standard practice within the Central Florida area to allow jail officers to falsify their records with little to no accountabilty (up to and including criminal prosecution). Sadly, we found two incidents out of Pinellas County that tend to support that it is an acceptable practice for local jails to allow their staff to falsify their records with little ramifications. Neither of these below officers were criminally charged for falsifying their reports

Interesting, in the Kyle Howard death, like in the Tracey Veira death, he was also on a medical watch and rigor mortis was already apparent when discovered.

Click here - Media article regarding Inmate Kyle Howard's in-custody death

Click here - Media article regarding Inmate Jennifer Degraw's in-custody death

So, why doesn't FDLE desire to investigate whether jail officers are falsifying their reports? VolusiaExposed wonders if FDLE's reluctance to investigate is political in nature. We invite you to review our concerns regarding FDLE Resident Agent In-Charge, Wayne Ivey.

Click here - Our concerns that Agent Ivey's professional responsibilities and his political agenda are in possible conflict.

VolusiaExposed has advised Agent Ivey's supervisor of our concerns - and have again requested from him (Agent Banks) that FDLE investigate our concerns regarding these in-custody deaths and the apparent falsification of records by officers.

Click here - VolusiaExposed's email to FDLE Supervisor Danny Banks


We also believe it to be of investigative significance that in Officer Bryant's (#939) VCDC 52 and 401 entries or report(s), she observed Ms. Veira on her bunk breathing at 0915 and 0930 hrs. So less, than forty five minutes from being declared dead - Ms. Veira is observed breathing on her bunk. It should be noted that Ms. Veira was discovered on the floor of her cell, and not lying on her bunk.


Official records indicates that jail staff discovered Ms. Veira lying on the floor of her cell in obvious medical distress at 09:54 hrs. Emergency Medical Services were called, but unfortunately Ms. Veira was declared deceased at 10:12 hrs.

According to his initial report filed with VCSO, Volusia County Sheriff Major Case Investigator Campanella arrived on scene at "approximately 11:00 hrs" Therefore, Investigator Campanella's arrival was within forty five minutes of Ms. Veira being declared deceased and with ninety minutes of her last observed by jail staff of being alive (see above observations / documents of jail staff).

Within his initial report, Investigator Campanella documents that both himself, as well as Volusia County Medical Examiner's Investigator Lunt had concerns that the alleged past observations of Ms. Veira being alive (09:30 hrs) were not consistent with the lividity and rigor mortis attached to Ms. Veira's body. Investigator Campanella stated that this concern would be addressed. VolusiaExposed.Com has researched Investigator Campanella's experience dealing with death scenes and he appears to be well versed in this area of investigation. However, unfortunately, it would appear that Investigator Campanella never addressed these inconsistencies (time line vs rigor mortis) in his final report. Why not?

In regards to Lividity and Rigor Mortis - How long after death do they show up on the body? Well, according to the below web link - Rigor Mortis "commences after about three hours and reaches maximum stiffness after twelve hours". While Livor Mortis "starts twnety minutes to three hours after death". According to the below web link on Livor Mortis, it is used to decide whether the application of life saving techiques such as CPR can be effectively used. According to Assistant Corrections Director Neel's September 17, 2009 report, EMS / EVAC personnel arrived on scene at 1008 hrs and a mere four minutes later EMS/EVAC personnel had secured (via radio / telephone) Dr. Mohammed's authorization to pronounce her deceased. Were the presence of Livor or Rigor Mortis factors in the rather quick declaration of death by EMS / EVAC personnel?

Why didn't Investigator Campanella at the very least question the inconsistent statements that each officer gave regarding their VCDC 52 and VCDC 401 reports? Did these jail officers falsify their observation rounds / reports?

Could the reason Investigator Campanella failed to follow up on his concerns be due to the influences of an apparent conflict of interest? Investigator Campanella's unit is supervised by Volusia County Sheriff Major Robert Jones. Assistant County Attorney Nancye Jones (Robert Jones' spouse) has a history of handling civil suits regarding jail incidents. Is this a conflict of interest and did it influence the handling and processing of this and other in-custody death investigations? The below link details our concerns surrounding this possible conflict of interest.

Even VCSO Investigator Graves appears to note signs of lividity in his September 16, 2009 report. Jail Captain Dofflemyer appears to have a "good" working relationship with VCSO Investigator Graves. In the below emails, Investigator Graves appears to be requesting Dofflemyer's assistance in resolving some criminal cases that are unrelated to the Veira death investigation. Does anyone else see the possbility that Graves (VCSO) and Dofflemyer (Public Protection Internal Affairs) have a Quid Pro Quo relationship? If so, did this possible relationship improperly influence the Veira death investigation?


We believe it is also of investigative significance that the Volusia County Medical Examiner's office opted not to list a known observation of when and who last saw Ms. Veira alive. This is very interesting since jail staff does make several documented entries on what Ms. Veira was doing shortly before her death. Why did the Volusia County Medical Examiner's office opt not to accept these observations? Was it because these observations were not consistent with the lividity and rigor mortis observed by both Investigator Campanella and Lunt?

Two years prior to Ms. Veira death, another female jail inmate (Muriel Comeau) died within the same housing wing of the Volusia County Correctional Facility. Notice that in regards to Ms. Comeau's death, the Volusia County Medical Examiner is very comfortable documenting who last saw her alive and when that observation occurred (it was an officer on 9-27-07 @ 8:46PM). However, please remember that Ms. Comeau, unlike Ms. Veira, was NOT on special medical watch (every fifiteen minutes). Comeau was under a standard segregation watch which required staff only to check on her every two hours. How questionable is it, that an inmate (Veira) on a special medical watch (every fifteen minutes) can die and not be discovered deceased until after lividity and rigor mortis are both apparent?

JAIL'S INVESTIGATION (What there was of one)

The strange and questionable events surrounding Ms. Veira's death do not stop here - on 9-18-2009 Volusia County Jail Director Ford authorized an internal affairs investigation into the events surrounding Ms. Veira's death. This can been seen in the below linked document where Director Ford was apparently forwarding documents to Internal Affairs Captain Dofflemyer.

However, in a 9-21-2009 email exchange with the Volusia County Risk Management Director, Jail Director Ford appears to indicate that the jail would not even start their investigation into Veira's death until after the Volusia County Sheriff Office investigation was complete. Director Ford documents - "The VCSO has this investigation, and our Internal Affairs will not officially start until they conclude theirs." (Ford) However, apparently Sheriff Investigator Campanella did not complete his investigation until 1-6-2010, therefore it is strange that Captain Dofflemyer from VCDC Internal Affairs submitted the following 11-2-2009 one page report, that has been filed as the final internal affairs report by the jail on Ms. Veira's death. Notice, Director Ford appears to close the jail's investigation with this report. Isn't it strange that VCDC Internal Affairs completed their investigation two months prior to the sheriff's investigation, especially given the fact that the jail director assured the county risk manager that this investigation would not even start until the completion of the VCSO investigation?

** Special note - In Volusia County, the county jail is NOT operated by the County Sheriff Department.

Further, doesn't it seem that Captain Dofflemyer's final internal affairs report is just a little short and vague? Apparently after conducting a month and a half long investigation, this one page report is all she came up with. Below is the press release written by Assistant Corrections Director Neel the day after Ms. Veira's death. You decide which report is more informative, Neel's or Dofflemyer's. Why is that? Maybe it has to do with the apparent fact that the Volusia County Division of Corrections does not have a developed internal affairs policy or procedures. How can a law enforcement agency conduct an investigation without these policies and procedures? How significant is it that the Volusia County jail has a policy on taking out the trash, but apparently does not have a policy on how to properly conduct an internal affairs investigation?

After comparing the press release with the apparent final internal report by Dofflemyer on Ms. Veira death, let's compare another final IA report against the Veira report. In September 2009, the exact same month that Ms. Veira died, a correctional officer was accused of unprofessional conduct, which included filing a false report / false statement. It is noted that filing false reports / statements appear to be an ongoing theme within Volusia County. Captain Dofflemyer was assigned to conduct an internal affairs investigation into the allegations. Here is her final 9 page IA report on her findings on that matter. Note how much more detailed this report is compared to the Veira internal affairs report.

In the end, apparently according to the county, Officer Gardner just make an error in her observations and documentation the fateful day Ms. Veira died choking on her own vomit approximately 10 feet from the officer's station of north wing. It is unknown, what, if any action was taken against any other officers for their apparent "mistakes" in documenting. The whole incident appears to be as dead as Ms. Veira with the jail administration and VCSO.

What is disturbing about the Veira death is that it was probably preventable. The jail apparently failed to take appropriate corrective action in response to several earlier deaths.

In December 2006, an Inmate Jack Nelson died at the Volusia County Branch Jail. Although initially the three officers in charge of making the cell block security / safety rounds indicated that these rounds were done. They later (approximately 30 days later) recanted that position after the death became the topic of a human interest media story. However, it would appear that this crucial information (recanted account) was never transferred to the sheriff office investigator assigned to review Mr. Nelson's death.

It is worth noting that prior to October 1996 all jail deaths were also investigated by the Florida State Prison Inspector. Since October 1996, jails now only self investigate these deaths through their sheriff and medical examiner departments. Many believe that without a formal State review of these deaths, that some jails no longer seriously investigate the events surrounding inmate deaths. Please review some of the below links on this matter.

Please review the additional documents associated with other in custody deaths at VCDC.