Coroner Releases Determination on Jail Inmate Death

March 21, 2012

03/22/12 Marshall County Coroner Bill Cleavenger released information obtained from the final autopsy report issued regarding the death of Georgina M. Onofre, a 35 year old inmate of the Marshall County Correctional Facility, on the morning of September 19, 2011. Georgina was being held as an inmate at the time of her death and died shortly after transfer to the Emergency Department of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth.

An autopsy was conducted the same day in Mishawaka by Dr. Joseph A. Prahlow, a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist, who after extensive testing and evaluation of Onofre’s samples an tissues, ruled that Onofre died as a result of a heart condition that even Onofre was most likely  unaware of. The condition is more commonly known as an enlarged heart which, along with certain other physical conditions, contributed to her sudden death. An extensive review was done of all Oronfre’s past medical and treatment records and she had never complained of any heart related symptoms to any of her other doctors, nor had she ever made reference to having heart related problems when she had been booked into the Marshall County Facility on previous occasion.  Coroner Cleavenger indicated that had Onofre known or told jail officials about any heart related issues, they would have been addressed while she was an inmate.

Cleavenger said Onofre’s sudden episode of heart related problems while she was in medical watch for behavioral issues, most likely gave her better odds of survival due to the quick actions of jail staff than had she been anywhere else and not had the trained staff and equipment immediately available to try and resuscitate her. Marshall County Prosecutor David Holmes issued an opinion earlier this week exonerating Sheriff Tom Chamberlin and his staff of any wrong doing regarding the incident.

Cleavenger met personally with Onofre’s family before releasing his information. “I feel badly for Georgina’s family for their loss, but also feel very sympathetic for those individuals who did their jobs well and according to training that were involved when Onofre was stricken.  I have concluded my investigation and am closing this case”.