MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The marks and sores on his face – the bruises on his body – were just the beginning of Randy Heath’s family’s concerns.
“He’s like a skeleton,” Angela Heath said. She was referring to the extremely graphic photographs of her son, taken by the Miami-Dade medical examiner during his autopsy. He appears emaciated. Randy Heath’s mother and niece said he was almost unrecognizable.
“Any person, no matter how [much] wrong they’ve done, still doesn’t deserve to be treated unfairly,” said Kyerrah Batton. She said her Uncle Randy was always happy despite, and in spite of his struggles.
Randy Heath’s family and medical records show he battled schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for years.
Felecia Whipple, a former facilitator at an adult group home where Randy Heath used to live said he also dealt with substance abuse issues.
“But he loved to eat. Not matter what, he was that joyful person,” she said.
Whipple also recounted Randy Heath’s criminal past. “Randy went into TGK,” she said. “He would come out of TGK all the time.” She said those arrests were for minor misdemeanor charges.
A similar arrest landed Randy Heath in an ankle monitor, last year. He was re-arrested, last November, for tampering with that device and booked in at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade County.
His family said that is the last time they heard from Randy Heath.
“I used to call TGK, like, every other day to check on him,” said Angela Heath. But she said from November 2020, to July 2021, she did not hear from her son.
We’re told the pandemic prevented in-person visits, and the family’s video visitation requests went unfulfilled.
Felicia Whipple said Randy Heath was smart, and had phone numbers memorized, and would call often when he was incarcerated.
“He knew how to dial the phone with no problem, but [his mother] said he’s not answering.”
Heath said when she did call, she was told Randy was doing well, or was busy, or asleep, but she says she could never get Randy Heath on the phone.
Randy died July 18, 2021, just days after his 39th birthday.
It wasn’t until the next day Angela Heath learned she’d lost her only son.
“I would have been thinking he was still alive,” she said.
Miami-Dade court records show, less than two weeks before Randy Heath died in jail, a judge ruled he was incompetent, and ordered him remanded into the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
According to the medical examiner’s report, Randy Heath died from “food asphyxia”. The report noted a large piece of orange was found blocking his airway.
But, the medical examiner also noted pica as a contributing cause of death. Pica is a disorder which causes people to eat things other than food. The medical examiner found plastic, “spongy material consistent with bandages, a mustard packet, and part of a peanut package” in his intestine, along with other “foreign materials”.
Medical records previous mental health treatment plans provided by Randy Heath’s family never mentioned a history with pica.
As a mental health patient, Randy Heath was regularly prescribed medications. A medical record provided from May 2020, just months before he was arrested, listed an antidepressant, antipsychotic, and a bipolar medication he was taken.
Randy Heath’s toxicology report listed none of those medications.
In May 2020, before his November arrests, a 5-foot-10 Randy Heath weighed 204 lbs.
When the medical examiner weighed him in July 2021, he weighed only 113 lbs.
“Randy didn’t deserve this,” Whipple said with tears in her eyes.
“Something happened,” Batton said. “He’s not eating. Is he being given food? Is he even taking medication? No one’s reached out to us from any facility. No one’s spoken to my grandmother — his mother — to even explain what happened.”
Miami-Dade Police are conducting an investigation into Randy Heath’s death. In a statement, spokesperson with the county’s corrections and rehabilitation department said, “[the] department is firmly committed to the integrity of the investigative process, and will not compromise it by commenting, or prematurely disclosing vital information on any open and active investigation.”
“We don’t stand silent,” said Batton. “Randy does have a family. No matter what his situation was, he always has a family, and he will always have this family.”
“Whatever happened in that cell in the dark, God will bring to light,” said Angela Heath.
Randy Heath’s family hired an attorney. Christopher Caproni with Caproni Law provided Local 10 News with a statement:
“Randy’s condition at the time of his death raises serious questions about how he was treated. We await the results of TGK’s internal investigation. The Heath family deserves answers and accountability as they struggle to make sense of this terrible tragedy.”