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She needed a hero.

Sandy C. Freese

January 8, 2022

Ta'Neasha Chappell was a vibrant 23 year old woman when she was booked into the Jackson County Jail in Indiana. Had she known that attempted shoplifting and leading officers on a chase would result in her death, she likely would have made a different decision. A month after she was booked, she sat on the floor of her cell covered with her own feces. Guards came and went, calling her a fake and yelling at her to get up and get dressed. She tried to stand and hit her head on the metal bed. She tried again and again. Four times she collapsed on the floor. For hours she pleaded for help, but received no support.


After suffering for nearly 24 hours, an ambulance was called on July 15th, 2021. Ta'Neasha was taken to the Seymour, Indiana Hospital, where she died the next day. Her sister, Ronesha had received daily phone calls from Ta'Neasha, as did their mother, begging them to get her our of the jail. She feared for her life. In a county whose population is 93.9% White, 1.3% Black, and the other is made up of various ethnicities, is it possible that her death was racially motivated? After nooses were placed in her cell, after she endured racial slurs, after having conflicts with other inmates and staff, is there any question?

On the 16th of November, 2021, I attended an event at the Jackson County Courthouse in support of Ta'Neasha and her family. The event was held four months after Ta'Neasha's life was taken and was attended by a great deal of supporters. Those who spoke did so with compassion and conviction. Ta'Neasha's mother, Lavita McClain pled for the surveillance tapes to be released. Ta'Neasha's 10 year old daughter, Neveah, was fearless as she stood on the stage and chanted "Say her name!" along with the rest of us. Ronesha, Ta'Neasha's sister, spoke as well. Though tiny in stature, she is a mighty warrior in defense of her loved ones.

It took over five months before the surveillance video was released. The family expected the tapes to shed light on the last hours of their loved one's life. It did. What they did not expect was to see Ta'Neasha, daughter, sister, and mother, being treated like an animal. Her dignity stripped, her hope lost, her smile faded.

So...what exactly caused Ta'Neasha's death? According to the autopsy reports, there were toxins similar to antifreeze found in her system. No drugs, just toxins. How did they get in her system? It is speculated that inmates forced her to drink cleaning supplies. Why did she struggle for hours before being taken to the hospital to die? Well, in my opinion, lack of empathy and hatred of the guards would be the answer to that question. Prosecutor Jeffrey A. Chalfant declines to charge anyone with the death of Ta'neasha, claiming that no one is criminally at fault.

This is the video exposing the last hours of Ta'neasha Chappell's life. I warn you, it is not easy to watch. However, if we turn our heads from the unpleasant, how can we expect to bring forth justice or to positively promote societal change?

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