Bellingham mother filed lawsuit against DOC in wrongful death of daughter

Bellingham mother filed lawsuit against DOC in wrongful death of daughter

BELLINGHAM – Late on a June evening, Jacqueline Olivo paced frantically in her cell at MCI-Framingham. The 40-year-old woman had been addicted to drugs for about half her life and was also struggling with mental illness and an infection. Olivo had been in prison for 12 days after her arrest in a Worcester prostitution sting and had complained to her mother that she wasn’t receiving her medications, including antibiotics for her infection.

It’s June 17, 2014. Between midnight and 12:30 a.m., security camera footage shows Olivo restlessly inhabiting the cell. She paces, lies down, gets up again, lies down again.

Just after 12:30, Olivo gets out of bed, paces and then collapses on the floor. She gets up when a staff member comes to the door and talks to the staffer. She collapses again, writhes on the floor a bit and then gets back into bed while the staffer remains visible through the window of the door.

The staffer leaves at 12:36 a.m. Olivo gets back into bed and stays there restlessly until 12:47 a.m., when a nurse, with medical equipment, and three guards come in the room.

Six minutes later, she is unresponsive. She breathes shallowly and her pulse is weak; her body begins to turn blue and her airways become clogged with a dark brown fluid.

Prison personnel rush her to MetroWest Medical Center, but it’s too late. Doctors place her on life support but she dies shortly before 5 a.m.

“Jacqueline did not die from a drug overdose,” said Lois Olivo, Jacqueline’s mother. “She died from horrific neglect.”

During Olivo’s 12-day incarceration at MCI-Framingham in June 2014, Department of Corrections staff were “grossly negligent” in providing Olivo medical care and ignored her condition, resulting in Olivo’s death from a duodenal ulcer, according to a lawsuit Lois Olivo filed against the Department of Corrections in September.

Watch video below of the security camera footage. The video may contain images upsetting to some viewers so caution is advised.

  Former Department of Corrections Commissioner Carol Higgins and former MCI-Framingham Superintendent Lynn Bissonnette are also named in the suit, which is filed in Middlesex Superior Court. Higgins stepped down as commissioner in April 2016 to move on with her professional career, according to a resignation letter. The lawsuit did not indicate when or why Bissonnette left her position as superintendent.

The suit also alleges MCI-Framingham staff withheld Olivo’s prescribed medications. Lois is hopeful the District Attorney’s office will open an investigation into potential criminal charges against those involved. The Middlesex District Attorney’s office did not return an inquiry seeking comment.

“This was a criminal act,” she said. “It’s not revenge. You have to pay for what you did. These people all need to be held accountable.”

Officials from the state Department of Correction declined to comment citing pending litigation.

Olivo’s more than two-decade long addiction to heroin and later crack cocaine began with a simple question from a friend when she was 18 years old.

“He said ‘Do you want to try heroin,'” said Lois. “You don’t just try heroin.”

Throughout Olivo’s 22-year addiction, Lois spent countless nights driving around the region in search of her daughter, often finding her in shelters, dingy hotels or walking the streets.

“If she didn’t contact me for 24 hours I would grab pictures and go look for her,” she said wiping tears from her eyes. “I used to drive all night long. I wanted her alive. I knew one day she wouldn’t be. I don’t think you can know that kind of fear and terror for your child.”

Olivo’s addiction brought her to many places, including more than 150 detox and treatment centers, homeless shelters, the streets of Worcester and, finally, MCI-Framingham where she would spend the final days of her life.

“She could just never, never shake those demons,” said Lois, who described her daughter as brilliant, creative and loving. “Very seldom do addicts live that long. Most parents have to force their children into detox. Not once did I have to tell her she needed detox. You really see what kind of disease this is. Their mind is controlled by the drug.”

Olivo, who grew up in Framingham and lived in Worcester, was one of 14 women arrested in the June 6, 2014 prostitution sting. Olivo was arrested for prostitution six times between 2000 and 2014, according to Olivo’s arrest record.

Olivo was initially treated at the Framingham prison’s infirmary for opioid and alcohol detox and was prescribed multiple detox medications. Olivo told prison staff she was on medication for bipolar disorder, seizures and high blood pressure. Prison staff verified that, according to the suit.

Days later, Olivo was placed in isolation due to an infection. She was released into general population when results came back negative for active pulmonary disease or tuberculosis.

Four days into her stay at MCI-Framingham, Olivo had still not received her psychiatric medications or antibiotics for infection and was “agitated, restless and upset,” according to the suit. Lois left a phone message for Bissonnette notifying her that Olivo had not received her prescriptions. A deputy chief told Lois the next day she would make sure Olivo received her medications, but she didn’t.

“I can’t wrap my head around what anybody did,” said Lois. “It was so inhumane.”

Olivo submitted a sick call request for indigestion and constipation on June 14, but was not seen by nursing staff until the following day. After complaining of severe stomach pain June 15, Olivo had an apparent seizure, according to her cellmates. Olivo was transported to the prison’s intensive care unit, but still had not been given her prescriptions.

Shortly after midnight on June 17, Olivo again complained of severe stomach pain and eventually collapsed on the floor of her cell. Surveillance footage from Olivo’s cell shows prison staff peer into the cell while she is laying on the ground and return minutes later with a nurse.

“She was trying to get to them,” said Lois.

While staff were taking her vital signs and attempted to take her blood pressure, Olivo became unresponsive. Corrections officers reported hearing gurgling sounds coming from her airway and turned her onto her left side to remove “a copious amount of dark brown fluid coming out of Ms. Olivo’s nose and mouth,” according to the lawsuit.

Corrections officers began administering CPR and called 911 at 1:04 a.m.

Framingham Fire responded but had difficulty getting her to breathe due to the amount of fluid obstructing her airway. Firefighters eventually were able to insert a breathing tube and continued CPR while bringing her to MetroWest Medical Center.

At the hospital, Olivo was put on life support due to her grave condition. After consulting with doctors, Lois took her daughter off life support.

“She wasn’t going to get better,” said Lois. “I couldn’t say goodbye. I just leaned over and kept telling her how much I loved her. She died one of the most painful deaths there is.”

An autopsy revealed Olivo died of a duodenal ulcer, which is caused by a stomach infection associated with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Only Ibuprofen and Trazodone, a drug to treat depression, were in her system at the time of her death.

“I would have never ever comprehended her dying the way she did,” said Lois. “It’s like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I’ll never wake up from it.”

Attorney David Angueria said prison officials had total disregard for Olivo’s condition.

“This unfortunately is an issue that’s happening all over the country,” he said. “They just stood there and were indifferent while she died a painful death.”

Though Lois would sometimes get frustrated with her daughter’s addiction, it never strained the mother-daughter relationship. The pair went to church and prayed together and were in frequent contact.

“We never spoke without saying ‘I love you’,” said Lois.

In memory of her daughter, Lois started the Jacqueline Olivo Foundation, which provides clothing to the region’s homeless. Lois’ ultimate goal is to open a 1,000-bed home in Jacqueline’s name.

“There really is a legacy of love that’s grown so huge in her name,” said Lois. “Her death saved many, many lives.”

She also visits homeless shelters and recovery centers in Worcester once a week.

“Their love and gratitude puts me to tears every week,” she said. “These aren’t throw away people. These people have stories to tell.”

Lois agonizes over her daughter’s addiction and the circumstances surrounding her death each day, but is hopeful Jacqueline’s story will help families and those struggling with addiction.

For more information on the Jacqueline Olivo Foundation visit

Jeff Malachowski can be reached at 508-490-7466 or Follow him on Twitter @JmalachowskiMW.


5 Responses

  1. Oh jackie O

  2. Most of the time the public will never know what is happening in jails. Sometimes when inmates kill each other they put it down as suicide. It keeps people away from things going on in the system. The same with prisons. Sometimes the wrong people are in prison . I so wish people would stop the private prisons .

  3. That is absolutely heartbreaking. How on earth could a human watch another human suffer like that and not do anything about it? Seriously, it’s like we don’t have compassion within our society anymore. I can guarantee if this lady was a dog or cat and was made to suffer like that, society would be up in arms (rightly so). I just don’t understand how some people can have so much compassion for animals yet not extend that compassion to include humans. (This is coming from an animal lover.)

    • jmo,,,in the big picture of things,,now this is jmo,,,,i think as a society,,when our children are pushed into institution at 6 weeks old,,because of that almighty dollar,,expense now a days for roof over our heads is tooooo much,,everything is tooo much,,,but our children have been raised institutional; style,,w/out the loving hug of a father or mother who’ stays at home to RAISE there children proper like,,w/compassion,emphathy,,COMMON SENSE,, those things are not taught in day cares,,,,,jmo,,,those things need to be taught,,sadly and we have raised a generation of institutional adults starting from baby on up w/no compassion or SOUL,, for their fellow mankind,,,their lives didn’t matter enough for ma/dad to stay w/then sooo y should they value human life at all?!,,,jmo,,maryw

  4. jmo,,,another victim of this FALSE epedimic,,,why,,,for if there wasn’t such a unrealistic fear perpetrated by klondike bar,our government ,our dea,our cops,,,of ,”pills” this women would of gotten her medicine..This is what happens in ,”witch hunts,”’ innocent people die!!!!!!!!!!!!MARYW

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