More than two months after prison inmate Richard Ferst’s corpse was discovered inside a cell at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, it remains unexamined inside a cold chamber at a funeral home in Carson City.
Ferst’s mother, Sandy Morningstar of Las Vegas, hopes preserving the body will help reveal how her son died — something prison officials haven’t explained.
Following her son’s wishes, Morningstar wants to scatter Ferst’s ashes into the Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach, Calif., where he grew up. It was Ferst’s favorite place.
“Because of their screwing around, my son is still in a refrigerator,” Morningstar said. “It’s maddening.” Ferst is one of four state prison inmates who died in October at the same facility under the care of the Nevada Department of Corrections. Officials never said whether a death investigation was requested in the cases. Three other prisoners have since died at other facilities, and autopsies revealed a cause and manner of death for two of them.
Relatives and civil rights advocates say they have grown increasingly frustrated by the prison system’s lack of urgency in determining why some of the men died.
The Nevada Department of Corrections did not request a postmortem examination for Ferst after he died Oct. 5, even though a new state law, effective June 2, requires department officials to do so for any inmate who dies under prison care. The law was openly endorsed earlier this year by prisons director Greg Cox, who did not respond to requests for comment via the department’s public information office.