Parents of Franklin County inmate say he died from fentanyl

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COLUMBUS -- The parents of a Franklin County inmate who died in October say drug tests show their son had fentanyl in his system when he died.

They want to know how that could happen?

Debbie Gibney says her son Brent had been in the Franklin County jail for seven months awaiting trial on robbery charges when he was found unconscious in his cell October 1.

Debbie says for weeks she has called the Franklin County coroner's office asking for information about how her son died. For weeks she was told nothing. Then last week, she said a coroner gave her the preliminary findings over the phone – Brent had fentanyl in his system.

"It was horror. How in the world could this happen in the county jail? He should be safe there. How did that deadly poison get to him?" Debbie Gibney told 10 Investigates during a phone interview Tuesday.

10 Investigates reached out to the Franklin County Coroner's office for an explanation. We were told they could not provide the preliminary cause of death information over the phone to anyone other than the next of kin. A final report on Gibney's death could be available in the coming weeks, 10 Investigates was told.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department is still investigating the incident. A department spokesman previously told 10 Investigates that Gibney was found unresponsive in his cell and transported to Grant Medical Center where he died three days later. But Brent's mother, Debbie Gibney, tells 10 Investigates she and her husband have concerns over Brent's care.

"I immediately called the detective and said 'how did this happen?' and he was polite but I was basically told we are at a standstill until they get the information themselves in the report," Debbie Gibney told 10 Investigates. "I want to know how this could possibly get to him in there. He had been in there seven months... we are just so angry that this could even reach him in there."

A copy of the offense report provided to 10 Investigates shows that Brent Gibney was found in his cell with an "unknown white powder."

Medical records provided to 10 Investigates show that Gibney had 53.5 ng/ml of fentanyl in his urine along with 20.6 ng/ml of norfentanyl in his urine, which was collected on October 2, two days before he died.

10 Investigates has filed open records requests with the Franklin County Sheriff's department, but the department has declined to provide any documents while the investigation is still pending.

Brent's father posted a video to Facebook Tuesday morning saying he knows his son had struggled with opioid addiction but thought he would kick his habit in jail.

He expressed disappointment with the Franklin County Jail.

A jail spokeswoman said Tuesday the investigation into the incident is still an open investigation.