RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — The family of a Wyoming County man who died at Southern Regional Jail in August said on Thursday, June 8, 2023 that the alleged murder of a 79-year-old man at the jail in October raises questions about their loved ones’ death.
Miranda Smith said her father, 45-year-old Alvis Shrewsbury, entered the jail on a DUI charge. Smith’s attorney, Stephen New, said Shrewsbury would have been eligible to leave the jail after serving three months of a six-month sentence.
Smith says Shrewsbury was bruised on his face during FaceTime calls with family. He also started to lose weight, she said.
According to Smith, Shrewsbury told his family that other inmates in the quarantine pod were stealing his food. He also said they had beaten him and he believed his rib was broken.
Smith said the family tried to get help from jail workers, but her father died after serving only 19 days of his sentence. Smith said the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office later ruled Shrewsbury died of an upper G.I. bleed — a natural death. She questions these findings.
“Something that was listed on his death certificate, or the autopsy report, [is] that previously he may have fallen off a bunk bed. That never happened. They also said his black eye was an old injury,” said Smith.
Mugshots taken of Shrewsbury when he entered Southern Regional Jail showed his face was not bruised when he began serving his sentence.
In a criminal complaint for Cunningham’s death filed in Raleigh County Magistrate Court on June 7, 2023, a man who shared a cell with McBride and Cunningham alleges McBride confessed that he had previously killed another inmate in the same way he had allegedly killed Cunningham but it “took this individual approximately two weeks to die.”
Smith believes McBridge was confessing to murdering her father. She said Shrewsbury and the family had asked Southern Regional Jail staff to protect her father once the alleged beatings had started.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield declined to comment on Shrewsbury’s case on Thursday, June 8 2023, but Hatfield added prosecutors are generally able to obtain charges of homicide more easily when the State Medical Examiner’s Office rules a death to be a homicide.
Smith is among a growing number of West Virginia families who have claim their loved ones died under suspicious circumstances while incarcerated at the jail but state pathologists ruled the deaths to be natural.
The State Medical Examiner ruled Cunningham died of a disease but mentioned blunt force trauma as a contributing factor, ruling Cunningham’s death to be a homicide.
According to the criminal complaint, Southern Regional Jail staff initially told police Cunningham was being transported to Beckley ARH Hospital for what seemed to be a medical emergency.
A state pathologist notified police a few days later of Cunningham’s injuries, according to the complaint.