Young woman loses 40 pounds in 4 days and dies in Duchesne jail


DUCHESNE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) An ABC4 investigation has uncovered gruesome details of how a 21 year old woman died last December in the Duchesne County jail. 21 year old Madison Jensen was booked into the jail on minor drug charges and was found dead on the floor of her cell 4 days later.

Good4 Utah’s Randall Carlisle first reported the story in March and has been investigating the death ever since. He has now obtained a copy of the state medical examiner’s report that includes some shocking and gruesome details about how and why she died.

The medical examiner’s cause of death is dehydration, but that doesn’t begin to describe the horror the young woman went through. Her father, Jared Jensen, says she was violently ill for several days. And a report from a sheriff’s detective included in the medical examiner’s report certainly confirms that.

Investigator John Crowley describes watching her on a cell camera vomiting after she tries to drink a clear liquid. “There was a dark brown substance in the holding cell on a blanket and coming from her mouth and on the bedding and on a shoe, showing the force that it came out of her by the pattern it left.”

The vomiting was so bad that, according to sheriff’s reports, she weighed 129 pounds when she was booked into jail and when she was found dead on the floor she weighed only 87 pounds. An unbelievable loss of more than 40 pounds in 4 days.

“I’m disheartened and just completely sick,” was father Jared Jensen’s first reaction to the report. “I’ve never been so upset and sick in my life after reading that.”

The sheriff’s investigator describes the body as incredibly thin and emaciated.

Jared can’t understand why they didn’t do more to save her life. “If a girl’s throwing up and seems dehydrated, take her to the hospital,” he says with tears in his eyes. “Don’t just sit there and wait and throw her back in a cell until she dies.” 

He wants some big changes implemented at the jail. “I don’t want another person to go through what my family has gone through for a simple bag of I.V. fluid.”

Just a day or two before she died Madison filled out a hand written medical request form at the jail saying, “puking for 4 days straight, runs, diarrhea. Can’t hold anything down, not even water.”

Jared says with cameras in the cells and receiving that note there is no way jail officials couldn’t have known how sick his daughter was.

Salt Lake attorney Ryan Hancey has filed notice that he plans to sue Duchesne County. He called the medical examiner’s report “shocking.” Hancey says it violates her constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.

“I’m not saying jails have to be country clubs,” he says. “But every human being, whether a prisoner or not, has entitlement to certain basic rights. Food, water, basic medical care.”

Hancey says it’s a basic concept that all jailers should already know. “You can’t have a prisoner not given water, or unable to take water down and keep it down, and die of dehydration in a jail cell. It’s the deprivation of a basic human right to eat and drink and to live.”

Reporter Carlisle reached out to the Duchesne County Attorney who is out of town. Also the County Sheriff and the jail commander. He left voicemails and sent emails to all three and hasn’t received any response. 

It appears that no jail personnel involved in her death have been reprimanded or suspended. That’s the very least Madison’s dad would like to see happen. “There’s something wrong in that jail,” he says. “Either they have no compassion for who’s in there, or they’re just inept and don’t understand how things need to work inside that jail. Because obviously my daughter is gone.” 

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