Editor’s note: The following story has explicit descriptions of suicide and suicide attempts that may be disturbing for some readers. For anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideations, call 988. If it is an emergency, call 911.
Pam Langworthy says she’s at peace with the 2022 death of her son, Patrick. But she also has questions — some things don’t seem to add up or sit well. All of that is true for her at the same time.
“He was just one of those types of people that would help anybody at any time — the kindest heart. In fact, one of his classmates was in the last throes of AIDS and in high school, he took her to the prom. Just a generally, genuinely good soul.”
Langworthy’s aunt, Patty Bevlock is in the exact same space — content, but with questions.
Bevlock never had children of her own, “so, my husband and I, more or less thought of him as ours too. And so our best memories are when we would quote-unquote kidnap him and take him to Maine with us on vacation.”
Without absolving Patrick of the responsibility of his actions, mother Pam and Aunt Patty generally agree that his father’s death at age sixteen was a key impetus to the beginnings of his drug use which eventually extended to cocaine, and maybe harder versions like crack. They say they never discovered any evidence of injectable drugs like heroin.
With numerous scrapes with police in his history, Patrick was admitted to the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County on June 8 for a parole violation.
Patrick Langworthy, born in New York in 1983, died by suicide in June 2022, leaving behind a daughter. According to an incident report obtained by Broad + Liberty through a source, at about 1:47 p.m. on the afternoon of June 15, a correctional officer at Delco’s George W. Hill Correctional Facility found Langworthy “sitting on the cell floor with a ripped bed sheet around his neck and tied to the bottom bunk.”
Langworthy was transported to Riddle Memorial Hospital the same day, then died three days later on the 18th. Pam and Patty say even though Patrick was essentially brain dead on the 16th, doctors kept him alive to prepare as many of his organs for donation as possible before his final breath.
The county declined to comment on the several issues presented in this story.
Notified the Next Day
Among the many questions the sisters have, the first is the manner in which they were notified.
“I’ve been a hospice director too, so I know how, if something happens, how you should be approaching things,” Aunt Patty said. “I kept thinking that — why didn’t the warden reach out sympathetically? I don’t care if he was in jail or what. He is a human being. If she didn’t care — if nothing but for damage control for her? And the other thing is why did it take 24 hours for my sister to get notified of the incident?”
It wasn’t quite 24 hours, but it was close. With the attempt coming at nearly 2 p.m. on the 15th, Pam says she wasn’t called until about 10 a.m. the following day — twenty hours. An email thread obtained by Broad + Liberty shows that Warden Laura Williams was fully aware of the incident no less than fifteen minutes after it was flagged.
“They did have my name on file,” Pam said, emphasizing that officials were not unclear whom to reach out to.
A similar theme emerged when Broad + Liberty reported on the suicide of Andrew Little, who took his own life at the prison eleven days before Langworthy. Little’s suicide attempt was on a Saturday. Little’s mother, Pam Owens, says she wasn’t notified by the prison until Monday.
Missed Opportunity for Care
Another question comes from a document obtained by Broad + Liberty last year.
In an email, Warden Laura Williams is inquiring with the administrator for Wellpath, the company that provides medical services to the prison. The email subject line is “Interruption of Services,” and the email contains a spreadsheet attachments of the same name.
The spreadsheet notes that for Langworthy, there was a request for some kind of medical services or intervention at about 8:45 p.m. on the 14th — or about sixteen to seventeen hours before his suicide attempt.
The document does not identify who made the request, but it is for a “chronic care clinic” and the spreadsheet makes plain that there was a request for one person to be seen, but “0” were.
“Was there a staffing shortage in the clinic or whatever that the hospital part or the medical part [had], because I saw there was an LPNs name there. Was she the only nurse and she had other people, could she not take them?” Patti asked.
The two final cells of spreadsheet information that describe Langworthy seem to conflict with each other. One says “Correction officer short of staff,” while a second cell says, “The evening shift was FULLY staffed on unit 8 including both escort positions[.]”
“It’s very confusing when you look at that and if his medical condition was bad enough that they wanted him to get some medical treatment for whatever reason – it just seems odd to me,” Pam said.
Both agreed that it was a reasonable hypothesis that after being in prison for almost a week that Langworthy was struggling with withdrawal, something they believe a “chronic care clinic” would be perfect to address.
A request for comment to Wellpath’s corporate offices was not returned.
The Mechanics of the Suicide
With Patrick standing at an estimated six foot three inches, the physical mechanics of the suicide seem hard for his family to square, given that the incident report said Patrick was hung by the botttom bunk.
Pam’s first question was whether the cell block was in an “open” setting, where most of the doors would be open and inmates gathering in communal areas, thereby allowing someone to see the act.
Aunt Patty agrees.
“I think what I noticed was the same thing as Pam: who can hang themselves at one o’clock in the afternoon and have no one notice?” Patty added. “And then I have to say, after reading what you sent and talking to you, how [can] a six-foot three man be found sitting on the floor with a torn sheet around his neck that’s [attached] to the bunk that’s on the floor?
A source with knowledge of the prison and with specific knowledge of that cell said a hanging from the bottom bunk would be difficult, but “wouldn’t be impossible depending on how the sheet was tied.” The source, who will also be quoted later in this article, is known to Broad + Liberty. That person is given anonymity to speak freely without fear of career retaliation.
Pam also says when she arrived at the hospital on the day after the attempt, her memories are slightly fuzzy from the staggering emotional shock she was under, but she recalls someone painting a slightly different picture than what was in the incident report.
Pam says she was told “that he hung himself with his T-shirt. I heard it from the warden, I believe.”
It was clear from a one-hour conversation with Broad + Liberty that Pam and Patty, despite their many questions — the pair are not sitting by idly spinning conspiracy theories. They are as open to the county’s information being true as they are sincere with the questions themselves.
But summing up the numerous issues adds to the weight of an earlier report by Broad + Liberty showing that law enforcement or county detectives weren’t notified in the wake of the suicide attempt.
“That’s a VERY big deal,” one source told Broad + Liberty, (emphasis original). “All serious incidents such as suicide, stabbings, attempted murders, etc., should be reported to CID [the district attorney’s criminal investigative division]. The repercussions to the jail for not doing that could be extreme in my experience.”
For that previous story, neither county officials nor the district attorney’s office offered a comment.
The failure to investigate Langworthy’s suicide stands in contrast to another suicide in the facility less than two weeks before, that of Andrew Little.
Little’s incident report indicated the prison contacted investigators. That incident report was turned over in response to a Right to Know request. However, a request with identical wording for information on Langworthy did not yield an incident report, even though one clearly existed.
Working the Stats? Or a Compassionate Act of Release?
Less than fifteen minutes after Langworthy’s incident became a “Code Blue” within the prison, Warden Williams started an email chain inquiring about the circumstances and reasons for Langworthy’s incarceration.
The thread spilled over into the next day, when at 10:45 a.m. Williams wrote to a colleague, “Would you be able to reach out [to his attorneys]? If he is released from custody, family can be involved and bedside without issue. If he can not be released, I certainly understand.”
While the attempt to get the family bedside clearly seems compassionate, it raises another issue of allegations of statistical manipulation.
By getting Langworthy released from custody, he was no longer the prison’s responsibility. If he dies after that, the death doesn’t count against the prison’s statistics.
If Langworthy were not counted on the prison’s statistics, it might explain why the Delaware County Daily Times noticed a discrepancy between the number of deaths the county had announced for 2022 — five — versus the four that were submitted to the Department of Corrections in an annual report.
“It’s not clear why the county and state prison death figures for George W. Hill are not the same,” the paper reported. “The discrepancy would be a suicide.”
This specific issue has come up for Williams before.
In a 2022 report by the Pennsylvania Institute of Nonprofit Journalism based in Allegheny County, the outlet noted that Williams defended the practice.
“If someone is in our custody and we send them to a local hospital and they are no longer in our legal custody, I am not speaking about the physical presence in our building…if they are no longer incarcerated — a determination made by the courts, not by us — we don’t have the right to the protected health information of those individuals. We do not have the right to report on that individual,” to the jail oversight board or to the public, Williams said.
The same prison source quoted previously in this article felt certain the main intent was statistical after seeing the email thread.
“That is truly damming in my opinion. That’s pretty much what was being rumored but that truly makes it plain. She’s trying to get him released before he dies,” the source said.
It strikes mother Pam as disingenuous as well.
“Her [Warden Williams’] explanation to me at the time was so that my sister and my brother-in-law could come upstairs to the ICU and be with me and with Patrick. And when I think about that now that seems kind of placating to me because I’m the person that’s being affected by his demise or his passing, and this way it kills two birds with one stone,” Pam said.
Although some of the questions Pam and Patty have involve documents provided to them recently by Broad + Liberty, they also say many of these questions have nagged at them for months, such that they reached out to two local media outlets asking them to investigate. They say they never heard back.
The Life Lost
In happier times, Patrick was in the marriage that produced his daughter — someone who is now nearing her teenage years. His drug use would be the wedge that ended his marriage, his mother said.
The family remembers with much laughter a family vacation in which each night, a different member had the responsibility to prepare dinner. So, they held a contest like the television show Chopped. Patrick won, and was given a magic spatula for the triumph.
“I won,” Aunt Patty said with a loving, teasing tone of voice, as if Patrick were right beside her to take the teasing.
Some families might deny the reality of a suicide because it makes it easier on their own concsience. That’s not Pam and Patty. They both say with conviction — not contrivance — that the Patrick they knew had deep problems, but the action he took doesn’t align with the person they knew.
“I knew my son, he had a lot of issues, but he was never suicidal,” Pam said.
In their one-hour conversation with this reporter, what stood out was the number of times the pair of women laughed, even remembering his troubles with a kind of fondness.
“He was a great addict,” Aunt Patty said with tragic respect. “He had all the charm of being able to win you over and the capacity to manipulate you and whatever.”
For some family members, closure after a suicide is impossible. But not for his mother.
“I had a really tough time of it last year, last Christmas time, and I went into therapy for a while, and I had this revelation one night when I woke up in the middle of the night, and when you wake up, sometimes you’ll flip the TV on or open a book or whatever,” his mom Pam said. “And there was a Bruce Springsteen special on, and he was talking about Clarence Clemens and Clarence’s death and how he played this song, ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ for him when he was passing.
“I am a huge fan, and Patrick knew this, and all of a sudden this one line just came out and it just made me, gave me such peace knowing that he was at peace. So, I have this innate feeling that it was him telling me that — we’re Irish — we believe he’s all around us.”
“Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams…”
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Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at email@example.com, or use his encrypted email at firstname.lastname@example.org. @shepherdreports