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Chicago Mother Wants Answers After Son's Death In Illinois Prison

CHICAGO (CBS) -- "My son was a beautiful person, he had a beautiful soul, a heart as big as gold," said Janelle Charles, as she describes her 27-year-old son Michael Jefferson.

Jefferson was awaiting trial on gun charges inside the Menard Correctional Center. Charles said she got a call on July 11 that her son had been found dead in his cell.

"I was at work and I got the call from the assistant warden that my son had expired."

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Michael Jefferson before and after his autopsy. (Photo provided by family)

Charles said when she saw her son's body, he had bruises, scratches, a gash on his head and genital swelling.

"My son has a hole in his neck as big as a fist, skin missing off his back. His genital area looked I don't know what happened if they burned him, stomped him, kicked him. He has a knot on the side of his head and his face is huge," she cried.

According to Randolph County Coroner Carlos Barbour, Jefferson was found unresponsive in his cell and transported to the hospital, where he passed away at 1:20 p.m.

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Janelle Charles, with a picture of her son. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

In a news release, Barbour said preliminary results of the autopsy showed no signs of trauma and is awaiting completion due to pending toxicology results and histology findings.

Charles said the coroner gave her no explanation.

"He told me I asked him since the autopsy is back what did you see? He said I didn't see anything unusual," she said. "Are you telling me when an inmate dies at Menard, that's how they all come out looking? That's not unusual to you? It's normal then?"

Michael Jefferson and mother, Janelle Charles (Photo provided by family)

In a statement, The IDOC said it has "launched an investigation into the death of Michael Jefferson, as it does with all offender deaths. Preliminary information reveals there was no trauma to Mr. Jefferson's body when he was transported from Menard Correctional Center to Chester Memorial Hospital on July 11. It is the Department's understanding that the wounds seen in the pictures of Mr. Jefferson's body are consistent with those incurred during an autopsy and the swelling a result of the body's rapid decomposition."

The family has retained an attorney and has asked the Department of Corrections for any surveillance video that shows what lead up to his death.

"I want justice for my son. No one deserves to die this way," Charles cried.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral costs.

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