Special Coverage: Inmate's death spurs investigation into Augusta YDC
By: Lynnsey Gardner, Carter Coyle, Kara Apel Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner, Carter Coyle, Kara Apel Email

Documents relating to this case:

There have been dozens of criminal sexual incidents reported at the Augusta YDC. The incidents from 2007-2011 include:

  • 18 reports of sexual abuse or exploitation
  • 10 reports of youth on youth sexual acts on DJJ property
  • Nine reports of abusive youth on youth sexual acts
  • 97 reports of lewd or lascivious conduct

 

The timeline of events in the case so far:

Monday, Nov. 7
Jade Holder, a 19-year-old inmate, is assaulted during a fight at the Augusta Youth Development Campus. Read more here.

Tuesday, Nov. 8
Jade Holder is declared brain dead by doctors at 3:20 p.m. His family later decides to take him off life support.

Wednesday, Nov. 9
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation interviews suspects and tries to gather the facts of the incident. An autopsy on Jade Holder's body begins. Read more here.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal releases this statement:
"The state will fully investigate this alleged crime and report back on the facts, 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."

News 12's Lynnsey Gardner speaks with a prison pastor and a former inmate. Both reveal shocking allegations on what has gone on inside the facility.

"Augusta is the worst unit I have been in across the United States of America," the pastor said. "That is like going to the gates of hell walking in that place." Read more here.

Thursday, Nov. 10
Autopsy results come in for Jade Holder. Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten says he died of blunt force trauma to the head.

The GBI charges 17-year-old Michael Everidge with Holder's murder. Read more here.

An investigation into contraband inside the facility starts after the allegations were brought forth in News 12's exclusive report Wednesday. A prison pastor and former YDC inmate told us that certain guards are supplying inmates with cigarettes, cellphones, liquor and marijuana.

Friday, Nov. 11
News 12 talks with Michael Everidge's mother. Keiondra says she believes there is much more to the story.

"This was a fight. But there's other hands involved with this. It goes beyond what they're saying. The guards who were supposed to be there -- watching these children -- who's supposed to be there guarding these children? They're responsible. Where were you? What happened?" she asked. Read more here.

Monday, Nov. 14
A prison insider comes forward and speaks with News 12. The source tells us the facility is "very short-staffed," employees are "very overworked" and even possibly "under-trained." He says many guards are pulling 15-to-20-hour shifts and some are not certified. Read more here.

Thursday, Nov. 17
A former YDC guard comes forward and alleges there is massive corruption going on at the facility. The DJJ numbers obtained by News 12 paint the picture: There were 86 incidents of employee misconduct in 2011, ranking Augusta's YDC as the second highest in the state. Read more here.

Friday, Nov. 18
The DJJ confirms Cpt. Victor Martin is suspended with pay. The reason given is an investigation into "possible employee misconduct." That suspension came on Nov. 10, just two days after 19-year-old Jade Holder died. The GBI says he was beaten inside his YDC cell inside unit 43 on Nov. 7. Read more here.

Michael Everidge is supposed to have a bond hearing but does not show up. Richmond County authorities say the state had a "paperwork mix-up." He is put on suicide watch at the Augusta State Medical prison.

News 12 also finds out that two days before Holder's beating, another inmate went unprotected. This inmate's injury was rated as a three on the severity scale, meaning it required medical care. The extent of the injury and the care that followed were withheld. So were the names of the five juveniles accused in the case. Read more here.

Tuesday, Nov. 29
A DJJ representative visits Michael Everidge's home to tell his mother he "will be monitoring him in Richmond County." This is the DJJ's first visit to her home -- 19 days after Everidge was charged with murder. Read more here.

Wednesday, Nov. 30
News 12 receives documentation showing that Marlon McCreary was fired by the DJJ for failing to lock the cell doors inside unit 43 the night Jade Holder was beaten. The letter is dated Nov. 9, which is the day after Holder died.

It says to McCreary, "As a result of your conduct, residents were allowed to enter and exit the rooms ... and fatally assault a youth under the care and custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice." Read more here.

Thursday, Dec. 1
Sources tell News 12's Lynnsey Gardner that Sardis Police Chief Gary Jones will be appointed as the interim director of the Augusta Youth Development Campus by Gov. Nathan Deal. Read more here.

Friday, Dec. 2
Michael Everidge is due in court but doesn't show. His bond hearing gets continued. Read more here. His mother shared her reaction to the case with News 12. You can see the interview here.

Sardis Police Chief Gary Jones is officially named interim director at the Augusta YDC. Read more here.

News 12 obtains an internal email with the details of an investigative interview that was scheduled with Holder. It was sent to Augusta YDC Director John Brady the week before the beating from senior DJJ investigator Benson Styles. The meeting never happened because Holder was already dead.

Sunday, Dec. 4
The GBI starts investigating claims that a 17-year-old boy sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy around 5:20 p.m. Sunday. The DJJ says the victim was taken to a hospital to be checked out and has since been returned to the YDC. Read more here.

Monday, Dec. 5
News 12 finds out Augusta Youth Development Campus Director John Brady was fired Monday.

"Yes, his employment was terminated," said DJJ Director of Communications Emily Gest in an email.

Sardis Police Chief Gary Jones begins his 90-day job as liaison to DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner.

Buckner appoints four new people to join the DJJ team. In a press release, Buckner says Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb will become deputy commissioner of Administrative Services, Tracy D. Masters will become director of Legal Services, Carol Jackson will become director of Legislative Affairs and Diane Avery will become the board and constituent liaison. Read more here.

Thursday, Dec. 8
Devin Scott Ardoin, 17, is booked into the Richmond County jail Wednesday in connection to the molestation reported on Sunday. Read more here.

Friday, Dec. 16
The DJJ announces that three employees at the Augusta Youth Development Campus have been terminated. According to the news release, the reason for the terminations is for “violations of policies and procedures that compromised the safety and security of the youth committed to DJJ.” Read more here.

Monday, Dec. 19
The DJJ releases the names of the three employees who were terminated from the Augusta Youth Development Campus. Natasha Neeley, Christopher Cann and Sharon Taylor were among the fired employees. In addition to terminating these three employees, the DJJ also demoted Paul Cloutier and Kendra Strowbridge from their positions. Cloutier and Strowbridge, who were assistant directors at the facility, were relieved of their duties and offered demotions and transfers. Read more here.

News 12's Lynnsey Gardner also talks with Jade's mother, Pam Holder. The single mother served in the Air Force and said Jade was planning to join the military once released.

"I hold the adults up the ladder ... the commanders, the people that are over the adults that are watching these children. I hold them responsible," Pam said. Read more here.

Tuesday, Dec. 20
News 12 finds out after some digging that the DJJ has terminated at least 37 employees within two years.

Beyond the homicide investigation, some terminations were due to illegal contraband and physical abuse and some were even cited as child abuse. In another case, there was an inappropriate relationship between a guard and a youth. But out of all 37 listed, only one officer has faced any criminal charges. Read more here.

News 12 obtained the termination letters for the following employees:

Thursday, Jan. 19
News 12 finds out the GBI is investigating another alleged sexual assault of an inmate at the YDC. The accuser was taken to the hospital last Saturday night to be examined, which is when the incident was reported. The inmate is now back at the Augusta YDC and the investigation is ongoing. Read more here.

Friday, Jan. 20
DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner holds a news conference, announcing the YDC is currently on lockdown due to "misplaced keys."

Buckner made a surprise visit with a handpicked team to the Augusta YDC Friday morning. They came to make sure the facility was following the correct policies and procedures.

Buckner releases information about the recent terminations and suspensions of the following employees:
-Juvenile Corrections Officer Edward Henderson: Fired after a misconduct policy violation involving a resident. Buckner would not go into further detail on this.
-Recreation Director Charles McGruder: Terminated for sexual misconduct involving a resident.
-Juvenile Corrections Counselor LaTonya Durden: Suspended with pay until the investigation is complete. She is suspected of bringing contraband inside the facility.
-Juvenile Corrections Officer Steven Whitaker: Suspended after being suspected of bringing contraband inside facility

She said none of these terminations or suspensions were in connection to the fatal assault of 19-year-old Jade Holder at the facility in November. Read more here.

Monday, Jan. 23
News 12 learns another supervisor, Cpt. Victor Martin, is being terminated by the Department of Juvenile Justice after being on suspension for more than 10 weeks. The reason given for Martin's termination was that his county-issued cellphone number showed up on an inmate's contraband cellphone. This is the eighth termination, including the campus director, since November. Read more here.

Click to read Martin's termination letter here.

News 12 talks with Martin about his termination. Read more here.

Tuesday, Jan. 24
The DJJ announces more personnel actions as a result of its ongoing investigation:

News 12 also receives the documentation for other employees:

The Augusta-Richmond County delegation calls a special meeting with DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner. Buckner said her biggest challenge is to make sure they have "the proper leadership" in Georgia's facilities. Read more here.

Wednesday, Jan. 25
DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner releases the names of two additional employees who have been fired from the YDC.

Kenneth Payton was fired for “allegedly initiating a physical altercation with a resident," and Dondale Stroman was terminated due to the “alleged improper use of physical intervention techniques.” Read more here.

Thursday, Jan. 26
The DJJ sends out a release following the termination of an employee at the RYDC facility in Columbus, Ga. Juvenile Corrections Officer Mike Brown was fired "for alleged improper use of physical intervention techniques." Read more here.

Tuesday, Jan. 31
Michael Everidge is indicted on two counts of murder. One count for malice murder, the other for felony murder. Read more here.

News 12 learns employee Tracy Banks has been fired. Banks was previously on suspension with pay. Read more here.

Thursday, Feb. 2
The DJJ announces the termination of an employee at the RYDC in Gainesville, Ga. Juvenile Corrections Officer Ardith Brown was terminated after "allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a resident." The release says Brown was placed on suspension with pay last week. Read more here.

Friday, Feb. 3
The DJJ sends out a release saying Lt. Damian Wise has been suspended with pay from the Augusta YDC due to allegations of employee misconduct. Read more here.

Friday, Feb. 10
Michael Everidge pleads not guilty to malice murder and felony murder in the killing of Jade Holder.

News 12's Lynnsey Gardner talks with Everidge's mother, Keiondra, about the situation and all of the employees who have been fired for misconduct. Read more here.

Wednesday, Feb. 15
The DJJ announces that Juvenile Probation and Parole Specialist Johnny D. Waters was fired from the Claxton Community Service Office. A GBI forensic computer analyst found Waters repeatedly used his work computer to view dating websites containing suggestive pictures. Read more here.

Monday, March 5
News 12's Carter Coyle talks with Gary Jones, former interim director at the YDC. He says that inmates were walking out of the facility worse off than when they first went in. Read more here.

Monday, March 12
Three juvenile corrections officers at the RYDC in Rome are cleared of charges connecting them to encouraging youth-on-youth assaults. Charges were dismissed by the DJJ for Juvenile Corrections Officers Deborah Adams, Geynah Carmichael and India Jones. However, Jones was fired after it was found she violated "other serious policy violations."

Tuesday, March 13
More news comes out of the facility in Rome, Ga. The DJJ announces that Juvenile Corrections Officer Geynah Carmichael, JCO Deborah Adams and Lt. Amanda Samples have been placed on "a disciplinary suspension from work called 'Decision-Making Leave'" after evidence showed they brought contraband food items inside the facility. Carmichael and Adams are also charged with "violating DJJ Security Management policy for abandonment of their assigned posts without proper authorization."

Carmichael and Adams were previously charged in connection to youth-on-youth assaults at the facility but were later cleared of those charges.

Thursday, March 15
A former juvenile corrections officer at the Gainesville RYDC is jailed after being accused of sex crimes. The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice said in a statement the former employee, Ardith Brown, faces charges of felony child molestation and sexual assault against persons in custody. Read more here.

Friday, March 16
Michael Everidge is denied bond in the murder of Jade Holder. Judge Daniel Craig denied Everidge bond, saying he is a threat to the community. Read more here.

Monday, May 21
News 12's Lynnsey Gardner continues the investigation into the YDC and finds the phone call transcripts from the night of Jade Holder's death. Read more here.

Friday, Oct. 19
Michael Everidge pleads guilty to the death of Jade Holder and is sentenced to 17 years of confinement and three years of probation.

It was a dramatic day in court for both Everidge and his family.

Everidge told the judge, "It was never my intention for this to happen and my heart goes out to the family. I just ask for the mercy of the court to give me a second chance." Read more here.


Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.


Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.


WRDW.com is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards.

powered by Disqus
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 134851008 - wrdw.com/a?a=134851008