Justin Struthers is being remembered as a loving father who would “do anything” for his twin daughters.
The 29-year-old Goderich man is the fifth inmate this year to die inside the walls of the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. He was found lifeless in his cell on Boxing Day, just one day after the mother of his children says he was taken in.
“He called 911 on himself,” Amber Hohner told 980 CFPL, providing some insight into the man’s final day.
“He was staying with his sister and he felt himself going under, I think, so he called 911 for help. They took him to the hospital in Goderich and the doctor there denied him.”
After not being admitted to the hospital, Hohner said Struthers became agitated and hit a police officer.
“Nobody was taking him seriously,” she said.
Hohner met Struthers at school when she was 14 years old, and they were in a relationship when she had the twins. The three-year-old girls were what Struthers had talked about, the last time the former couple spoke.
“It was just before Christmas, and he had asked me to make plans with the girls, and I said, ‘OK,’ and that was the last time I really even talked to him,” explained Hohner.
Hohner says Struthers had been living in a halfway house for six months up until September, after he’d gotten out of jail.
“He was just trying to get his life back on track and get his job… I think he felt pretty stuck, he had a hard time being able to come and see his kids.”
Struthers had struggled with depression throughout his life, said Hohner, and he would often feel overwhelmed.
“He felt like he never had a purpose,” she said. But his daughters helped him get by.
“Even from jail, he was always sending them cards and gifts. Whatever he could possibly do, and while he was gone, he made sure they still had everything that they needed… he loved them so much.”
Struther’s death adds to a growing list of deaths inside the troubled provincial jail; police say no foul play was suspected in the death of an inmate on Dec. 9, and they released few details about another inmate who died in mid-August.
Six inmates had filed a lawsuit against the province in the wake of the beating death of Adam Kargus, who was found dead in his cell on Oct 31, 2014.
The inmates claim they’re suffering lasting psychological trauma after being forced to witness the murder while locked in their cells.
Anthony George was sentenced in August to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in Kargus’s disturbing death.
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