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A year after her death, Ta'Neasha Chappell's family is still looking for answers

Family, friends and supporters rallied outside the Jackson County Jail Saturday.
Mitch Legan
Family, friends and supporters rallied outside the Jackson County Jail Saturday.

A year after Ta'Neasha Chappell’s death, her friends and family still don’t know what happened to her.

Supporters rallied outside of the Jackson County Jail on the anniversary of her death to once again demand answers.

“We’re not backing down,” Chappell’s mother, Lavita McClain, said Saturday. “We want the truth. And we want people to stand accountable for what they did to my daughter.”

McClain and her family believe Chappell, a 23-year-old Louisville resident, was poisoned while she was an inmate at the Jackson County Jail.

On July 16, 2021, she was transported to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where she was pronounced dead not long after. Prior jail recordings showed Chappell in serious distress and pain, vomiting and having bowel issues. But jail staff did not help her for hours.

“They watched 18 hours of her beg[ging] and suffer[ing] while they eat, play on they phones and laugh,” Chappell’s sister, Ronesha Murrell said.

Family and friends speculated Chappell might’ve been killed by ingesting antifreeze, but a toxicology report ruled that out. The report concluded that no crimes were committed by jail staff or inmates but did not make a determination about the quality-of-care Chappell received at the jail.

An autopsy found her cause of death to be “probable toxicity of an unknown substance”; the prosecutor’s report listed the cause of death as “undetermined.”

“Five, 10, 15, 20 years, if it takes me to my death, I’m gonna fight,” Chappell’s mother said.

The family is calling for a federal investigation of what happened to Chappell. They filed a civil lawsuit last October seeking $30 million in damages.

“Y’all forget that she had a daughter,” Murrell said. “We do this for her daughter.”

Not long after Chappell’s death last year, Jackson County inmate Joshua McLemore died after being transported to Shneck in Seymour.

A recently released prosecutor’s report for that case said prolonged lack of attention from jail staff during a medical issue likely led to McLemore’s death. No jail staff were charged in that case, either.

Mitch Legan