Family Looking for Answers After Woman Dies in San Joaquin County Jail

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An investigation is now under way at the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp after a female inmate died while in custody last week.

Now the inmate’s family wants answers about how she died and why the county waited several hours after her death before notifying them.

Relatives of 50-year-old Celestine Allen told FOX40 she was found dead inside her cell last Wednesday, but they were not told until early Thursday morning.

“The family members are here to look for answers to why Celestine Allen has died,” said Johnny Moore, Allen’s brother.

Allen’s only daughter, Tonetta McDaniels, said she and her family are not getting answers easily from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

“It seems like they have something they’re trying to cover up, because it’s like already I’m getting the run around, and it’s been a week,” McDaniels told FOX40.

McDaniels said even basic questions are being ignoring.

“If they did a medical evaluation, if she was talking to a nurse, those are things that’s the first things that you do when you booked into jail I’m pretty sure … They couldn’t even answer those type of questions for me,” McDaniels said.

A spokesperson from the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office tells FOX40 it is standard protocol to order an autopsy for all inmates who pass away while in custody. That process takes six to eight weeks, especially to get the toxicology report back.

“I think they should be searching for answers a lot more quicker,” Moore said.

But the sheriff’s office also said Allen’s death was not suspicious in nature and that she was alone in her cell when she died.

However the sheriff’s spokesperson says it’s too early to call her death a suicide or not.

“And she also has a mental disorder, she should have been watched for a certain amount of time I think,” Moore said.

Her family said Allen has two grandchildren with one more on the way. They believe she was suffering from an episode brought on by her schizophrenia.

This was not the first death at that facility this year. Alex Sutherland, 27, was also found dead in his cell in February.

“We learned it occurred 6 months ago? That’s ridiculous, that’s absurd,” McDaniels said.

Her family said Allen was arrested for getting into some sort of fight with another woman, but they’re still not sure of all the details.

They say they understand the toxicology report will take some time, but feel deputies could tell them a little more than they are.

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