St. Louis medium-security workhouse

(KMOX/Brad Choat)

Family of Man Who Died in Jail Seeks Answers

49-year-old Louis "Lynn" Payton died last week at what's known as the Workhouse.

August 09, 2018 - 9:53 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) - Family members of a man who died behind bars awaiting trial at the Medium Security Jail on Hall Street are demanding answers. 

49-year-old Louis "Lynn" Payton died last week at what's known as the Workhouse. Relatives say they are unaware of any medical condition that would have caused the fatal collapse just after midnight on Aug. 2.

His sister, Janice Washington, says apart from a phone call their mother got from the jail saying he was dead, the city hasn't explained what happened.

“No one ever called my mother back, no one [ever did] anything. We don’t know what really happened to my brother, and we want justice for Louis Payton. I keeping saying his name so everyone will know his name, Louis Payton,” she says.

A spokesman for the mayor says the cause of death remains unknown, and the case is under investigation.

A 2017 lawsuit against the Workhouse cited inhumane living conditions, including mold and rodents. In May, officials found 30-year-old Andre Jones hanging from a bed sheet in his cell in an apparent suicide. 

"We are here because there must be no more. No more death and dying in a place that claims to be for the purpose of rehabilitation,'' activist Michelle Higgins said. 

City jail records show Payton was arrested on Jan. 25. He was charged with possession of an unlawful firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, and drug-related counts. 

Koran Addo, spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, said the city is working to make jails safer and reduce jail population. He said the number of people jailed in St. Louis has declined 12 percent over the past year.