A 17-year-old has been charged with the murder of the 19-year-old inmate at the Augusta Youth Development Campus. Michael Everidge will be charged as an adult and is in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections.
A statement released by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's office calls the incident a "travesty."
“The state will fully investigate this alleged crime and report back on the facts," the statement read, "but initial reports are disturbing. A new commissioner will take over Department of Juvenile Justice next week, and I will work with her to take swift and urgent action in this case. Beyond the ongoing investigation, we need to take corrective action to prevent similar travesties from occurring in the future. My heart goes out to the victim and his family.”
Gale Buckner, the incoming commissioner-designee of the Department of Juvenile Justice -- which oversees youth detention facilities in Georgia -- declined to talk about the case, saying it is an ongoing investigation. But she did tell JJIE that the agency is working hard to try to understand exactly what happened.
"We are getting to the bottom of all the allegations to determine exactly what did happen," said Buckner. "And until that investigation is complete I am not prepared to go into any details or theory until we have the full investigation completed.”
On Wednesday, an official with Georgia's Bureau of Investigation says the death of a 19-year-old at an Augusta detention center for youth has now been designated as a homicide investigation and that his agency is involved in the investigation.
"The GBI was asked to look into this after the incident," said Pat Morgan, the special agent in charge of the region including Augusta. "It is now a homicide investigation."
Nineteen-year-old Jade Holder was taken to the hospital in critical condition Monday night after an apparent fight at the Augusta Youth Development Campus (YDC), but died the following day. Autopsy results reveal he died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Morgan added that DJJ was cooperating in every aspect of the investigation and that the GBI was also working with the local district attorney, Ashley Wright.
According to Morgan, an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning and agents form his organization are currently conducting interviews inside the facility.
Morgan declined to say how many people were involved in the incident that led to Holder's death, but he did add that, "this was confined to unit No. 43. It was not in the open. There are about 15 to 20 inmates in this unit."
The Fox affiliate in Augusta, Fox 54, spoke with Holder's mother. Evangeline Holder told the station she is devastated by the loss of her son.
Holder said the DJJ told her five to eight inmates and a prison guard were arrested in connection with the fight. But Morgan disputed this saying, "no one has been charged or arrested at this point."
According to Holder, when she arrived at the hospital after learning of the fight, she found her son brain dead.
Jade Holder was serving time for burglary and theft by taking. He'd been at the facility fewer than six months.
In the statement the DJJ said additional safety precautions have been put in place at the detention facility “to ensure the safety for the youth and staff.”
JJIE recently reported on a riot October 30 at the DeKalb County Regional Youth Detention Center that involved half of the center's 64 inmates. That riot was the second in six months at the DeKalb facility.
Photo credit: Ken Mayer/flickr.com
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