Keskea Hernandez Died After Miami Prison Doctor Accused Her of "Embellishing" Illness

On June 20 of last year, Keskea Hernandez appeared in a federal courthouse to beg for her life. The 42-year-old real estate agent had been locked up in Miami's Federal Detention Center for almost a year since her arrest for mortgage fraud. Formerly pretty and energetic, Hernandez was now thin and wracked with pain. A case of lupus, an auto-immune disorder, had spiraled out of control inside the FDC. She was now vomiting blood.

But FDC officials called her a liar. "Those things that you just heard are embellishment," said FDC clinical director Delvena Thomas, according to court records. A judge agreed and left Hernandez in her cell.

Hernandez died alone and in shackles on January 9, 2013. Read this week's metro story to hear how Hernandez's family say Thomas and others at the FDC all failed her.

Worst of all, interviews and documents obtained by New Times show that Hernandez's death was preventable.

In the six months after her unsuccessful bond appeal, she wrote multiple emails to Thomas -- an Army psychiatrist who we briefly profiled back in 2010 -- other prison officials, and a judge in which she warned that FDC conditions were killing her.

"Please, your honor, give me only 15 minutes... to show you what I have and that I am not making this up," she wrote in a flowery script to federal judge Robert N. Scola on December 4.

Three weeks later, on Christmas Eve, Hernandez was rushed to Larkin Community Hospital where she eventually died.

(Scola, Thomas, Hernandez, and other FDC officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

Read this week's metro story for more information about the tragic case.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.