Authorities: Initial evidence finds that Fishkill inmate died by suicide

Clarke was found unresponsive at the state correctional facility in the overnight hours of April 11, according to officials.

Blaise Gomez

Apr 28, 2022, 8:44 PM

Updated 807 days ago


New York State Police are releasing new information into the death of Fishkill inmate Joseph Clarke. 
Clarke was found unresponsive at the state correctional facility in the overnight hours of April 11, according to officials. 
State police investigators say initial evidence shows Clarke, who’s from Newburgh, died by suicide. 
The inmate’s mother, Sandra Murphy, is demanding a closer look and spoke exclusively to News 12 about the last time she says she visited her son, two days before his death. 
“I said, 'What’s going on?' And he said, ‘Ma. Ma, they trying to kill me. They are going to kill me.’” 
Murphy says her son was just transferred to Fishkill after serving eight years at other state prisons. 
She says the 37-year-old father of four had two bloody gashes on his arm and head during their final visit and appeared nervous. 
“I said why would they want to kill you,” says Murphy. “He said, ‘Ma – you don’t understand. They {are} setting me up.’ He was talking about the guards.” 
State police, however, say there’s no indication of foul play.  
Murphy says her son had no history of mental illness and wasn’t on medication. 
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision tells News 12 that officers tried to save Clarke after he was found, and that his death remains under investigation by state police, their Special Investigations unit and the attorney general until the final autopsy report. 
The death isn’t the first at the facility. 
News 12 has obtained court documents showing D.O.C.C.S was served with two wrongful death lawsuits in 2015 for two other inmate deaths. 
Murphy’s attorney, Patrick Owen, says in both cases the state settled outside of court. 
 “Whatever Joseph did he received a sentence of prison,” says Owen. “Under the care and custody of the Department of Corrections, he ended up with a death sentence.” 
The state Corrections Department says any inmate death that’s not from natural causes is thoroughly investigated. 
They say any allegations of staff misconduct are referred to prosecutors and the Department of Labor for review and termination from state employment.  
“My members are some of the most heroic and professional officers in the state of New York,” says Chris Moreau, New York State Correctional Officers Benevolent Association vice president for the Mid-Hudson. “I have no doubt that staff did everything in their power to save his life.” 
Clarke was serving 12 years on a weapons charge and was up for release next November.  
His mother says he earned his GED behind bars, had successfully completed multiple prison programs and was looking forward to his release. 

More from News 12