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Investigation of death of KC woman held in Kansas jail concludes

Updated: 2014-02-01T00:43:23Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

Police in Goodland, Kan., said they have completed their investigation of the Jan. 22 death of a 58-year-old Kansas City woman who was being held in the Sherman County jail.

Authorities have not released a cause of death for Brenda Sewell, but they said they have turned the case over to Sherman County prosecutors to determine what action should be taken.

“We understand that many people are anxious to know the results of our investigation, and we appreciate the patience everyone has shown as we investigated this incident,” said Goodland Police Chief Clifton Couch. “This investigation is very important and we didn’t want to rush it.”

County Attorney Charles Moser could not be reached for comment. Relatives have not been told the cause of death, Sewell’s younger brother, Rick Ray, said Friday.

Sewell and her sister, Joy Biggs, were pulled over by the Kansas Highway Patrol in Goodland on Jan. 20, suspected of speeding. A trooper arrested them after finding marijuana. Relatives said jailers did not give Sewell her medication and were slow to help when she became ill and began to foam at the mouth.

Sewell was taken to Goodland Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Over the past decade, Sewell had been treated for hepatitis C, thyroid problems and fibromyalgia. She carried several medications for the ailments.

Jailers withheld Sewell‘s medications because she kept them in a daily pill container instead of the original bottles and jailers were unable to identify the pills, relatives said.

The sheriff’s office requested that an outside agency handle the death investigation. Police conducted numerous interviews, reviewed video footage and examined various evidentiary items, Couch said in a written statement.

“We have taken great care to provide an accurate account of what happened to the county attorney’s office,” he said in the statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Sewell’s friends and family during what is surely a difficult time for them.”

Sewell had purchased marijuana in Colorado, relatives said, to help ease pain associated with her various ailments, as well as to manage nausea and improve her appetite, relatives said.

Funeral services for Sewell will be held Saturday in Kansas City.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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