by Kendra Budd, Editor
Charles Givens was an inmate at the Marion Correctional Treatment Center in Marion, Virginia, who tragically died in February 2022 under mysterious circumstances. Kymberly Hobbs, the sister to Givens, was told by prison officials that her brother had died of “natural causes”—which she initially believed. Eventually, Hobbs would receive a phone call from another inmate’s girlfriend, unraveling the dark truth behind his death.
The inmate alleged Givens entered the bathroom with four correctional officers then came out minutes later horribly beaten and limping—while a fifth officer failed to protect him. Autopsy reports later confirmed that Givens’ death was due to blunt force trauma, not natural causes.
Seeking out justice for her brother, Hobbs’ attorneys hired private investigator Jeff Pike of Complete Surveillance to assist in the investigation.
Who Was Charles Givens?
For over 12 years, Hobbs had cared for her older brother Givens. According to court documents, Givens hadn’t developed intellectually nor emotionally beyond the age of seven or eight after he fell down a flight of stairs around four years old—which left him permanently disabled. On top of that, Givens also lived with Chron’s disease and other underlying health issues. The lawsuit, which Hobbs would file after her brother’s death, added that Givens “would require assistance and supervision with daily functioning and tasks.” Hobbs was his legal guardian since 2009, just one year before he was incarcerated.
So, how did Givens end up in Marion Correctional Treatment Center exactly? For the 2010 murder of his mother’s healthcare nurse, Misty Leann Garrett. Givens, 41 at the time, had stated to police that he had tried convincing the woman to go out on a date with him to no avail. “He’d become infatuated with her and just lost it when she said no,” Pike said. After she refused his advances several more times, he claimed “Satan” had placed thoughts in his head to kill her.
Givens had been living with his mother while she was being treated by Garrett. On March 4, 2010, Givens allegedly snuck up behind her with a .22–caliber rifle, firing a single but fatal shot into the back of her head. Givens pled guilty to charges of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
Pike believes the system failed Givens by charging him criminally, and instead should have been placed in a full-time psych ward. “Marion Correctional Treatment Center is a prison, but it’s also considered a mental institution. There is a psychiatric wing, but the issue is that he’s in there with regular prison inmates too. These correctional officers weren’t properly equipped to deal with prisoners with disabilities,” adds Pike.
It makes people wonder, if Givens had been tried with his intellectual disabilities taken into consideration, there was a chance he would have never ended up at Marion Correctional Treatment Center—which years later would become the place Givens’ was brutally murdered and tortured for years.
The Cover Up
On February 5, 2022, Hobbs received a call from the prison’s Warden, saying Givens had died of natural causes. According to Pike, she had assumed that his death must have been related to his health issues and a direct result of Chron’s disease.
Just three weeks later, Hobbs received a call from an unknown woman who would become the case’s whistleblower. The whistleblower claimed that her boyfriend (Inmate 1) was an inmate at the Marion Correctional Treatment Center and knew Givens. She further explained that Inmate 1, talked to another inmate (Inmate 2) who saw four officers violently beat her brother to death. According to Pike, Hobbs “didn’t believe her at first. Then the autopsy report came back.”
A medical examination dated a month after Givens’ death stated that his cause of death was blunt force trauma—not matching what Hobbs was originally told. When she contacted the Warden, they stated the injuries were from a previous fall, but Givens had still died from natural causes. However, the only recorded “fall” Givens had was from June 2021, and it still didn’t match the injuries Givens sustained. “He had multiple fractured ribs, a punctured spleen, and had internal bleeding. The injuries were consistent with a car accident, not just from a slip and fall,” Pike informs.
Immediately suspecting that prison officials were covering up the true cause of death, Hobbs contacted attorneys Paul Stanley and Mark Krudys. So far, everything described in the autopsy report matched what the whistleblower had previously told Hobbs, and not at all what the prison was trying to claim.
In fact, even the Chief Medical Examiner Eli Goodman didn’t originally rule the death as a homicide because he lacked the “sufficient evidence” to do so.
Hobbs told her attorneys about the whistleblower and all of the phone calls she had with prison officials. “She’s a smart woman. She kept notes and details about who called her and when. It was immensely helpful,” Pike enlightens.
After taking a look at the autopsy report, Stanley and Krudys called in Pike to validate the whistleblower’s claims—thrusting Pike into a thorough investigation that would uncover the horrific details of what happened to Givens.
Bring in the PI
Jeff Pike is a Wythe County private investigator with a background in law enforcement. He has worked on several prominent cases in Virginia, and with his background, it is no wonder Hobbs’ attorney chose him to take on the case. “They told me they had an ‘unusual situation,’ and they needed me to dig into the case deeper,” Pike recalls. However, he wasn’t fully prepared for the gruesome story that would unfold upon his investigation.
The attorneys requested that Pike call the whistleblower to see if her story was consistent with Givens’ mysterious injuries and to find out who this supposed inmate was and interview him. “I called her and she gave specific details about Givens’ injuries. She would not have known that unless someone else watched it happen. It was too consistent,” Pike says.
Once obtaining Inmate 2’s identity from Inmate 1 through the whistleblower, Inmate 2 told Pike he had been tasked with cleaning Givens’ cell after he had defecated himself—not uncommon for someone of his age with Chron’s disease. He had walked past the shower where the alleged beating took place and heard and saw everything occur, from dumping cold water onto Givens to whipping him with towels. He told the story to Inmate 1, who then told the whistleblower.
Pike said a state police polygraph test was administered to confirm Inmate 1’s story. “He passed with flying colors. He knew too much detail just to be making it up. It was a perfect match to the medical examiner’s report,” says Pike. Now, with the story confirmed to be true (allegedly), Pike was tasked to look into Givens’ history at the prison, interview other inmates, and search for anything that could help the case proceed forward.
After some digging, Pike found out that this wasn’t the first time Givens had been hospitalized for suspicious injuries. “He had previously ended up in a hospital with third-degree burns on his buttocks and groin area,” Pike discovered. In fact, it was reported that an officer sprayed Givens with scalding water, which caused the burns.
Upon further investigation, Pike discovered that Givens had been hospitalized four times for hypothermia and was in critical condition twice. Pike’s investigation revealed, “I have witnesses that say the guards would pour water on the inmates then leave them in the cells with the windows open during the winter. Givens wasn’t the only inmate to get hypothermia from this treatment.” According to Pike, the motivation for the officers doing this was to keep the inmates controlled. The conditions were so cold that according to his witnesses you could see a skim of ice over the toilet bowl water. “It was like an 1890s torture prison,” says Pike.
However, Pike’s most significant contribution to the case comes in the form of video evidence. “I was able to get videos from inside the prison, which shows Givens going into the shower, handcuffed, with four guards following him. Then, 20 minutes later, Givens is escorted back to his cell by the same guards,” Pike discloses. Within those 20 minutes, Inmate 2 claims the brutal beating occurred. Givens can be seen leaving the shower, slightly limping and only wearing a pair of boxers.
A short time later, a fifth officer is seen peering into Givens’ cell, but does not go in and leaves. According to the autopsy, Givens was dead by this point. It wouldn’t be for another hour that he was pronounced dead. Givens was found lying down on his cot, but with his legs hanging off the side as if he had passed out. Meaning the fifth officer would have seen him in that state when he peered into the cell.
Getting the video evidence and Givens’ report was no easy feat for Pike. “I was met with some pushback from the Sheriff’s office. They tried to tell me they didn’t have the report on Givens,” Pike recalls. In fact, the Sheriff’s office claimed the reports didn’t exist at all.
After being turned away, Pike went to the fire department’s office to see if they had the report on hand, where he was told the Sheriff had lied to him. Not only did the report exist, but it was at the office he had just left. However, Pike says this wasn’t anything new to him. “I have a history with these people. Some like me, others don’t because I win cases against them. They get mad because they didn’t do their job properly, so they try to play me,” Pike elaborates.
Pike was of course able to get the video utilizing his local sources that he has developed over the course of his 30-year career. He says this ended up being monumental to the case because it not only showed what happened between the shower and the cell but also matched what Inmate 2 said. “The exact people that he said were there, were there. The exact way things happened, happened all in that video,” says Pike. Since there are no cameras in the shower, this video with the eyewitness testimony became Pike’s most prominent piece of evidence.
Pike has continued to dig into the case, and specifically into each guard’s past, unveiling less than respectable information about some of them. However, Pike couldn’t share specifics due to the pending court case.
Hobbs and her attorneys filed the lawsuit in early February of this year while Pike continued his investigation. The lawsuit alleges that officers Anthony Raymond Kelly, Gregory Scott Plummer, Joshua Jackson, William Zachary Montgomery and Samuel Dale Osborne participated in some capacity in the brutal beating of Givens in the shower room, ultimately killing him. The inmate identified and confirmed each officer from the video surveillance Pike uncovered.
The lawsuit alleges that for nearly 20 minutes, the officers dumped buckets of freezing-cold water on Givens while they punched him several times and whipped him with towels, as told by Inmate 2. “The Defendant correctional officers attacked Mr. Givens in the shower following Mr. Givens having accidentally defecated on himself,” the lawsuit reads. Although the lawsuit states Osborne didn’t directly participate in the fatal beating, it claims he failed to intervene by stopping the other officers. Osborne is the officer seen peering into Givens’ cell and leaving instead of calling for medical attention.
The court document continues to say that Givens would be found unresponsive in his cell an hour later, where he was declared dead. The lawsuit further states that the prison tried to cover up Givens’ murder despite evidence indicating that it was the only possible cause of death. “…this brutal attack was simply one instance of Treatment Center staff abusing Mr. Givens; this vicious assault was then covered up, not only by the Defendant correctional officers, but also by Treatment Center officials. Efforts to impede the Plaintiff’s inquiry into Mr. Givens’ death continue to this day,” claims the lawsuit. Furthermore, the lawsuit states that the officers deviated from standard procedure, as normally only one or two officers would be needed to escort Givens to the shower—nor did he need handcuffs since he was low-risk. However, the Defendants swear not only did they follow protocol, but still insist that Givens’ death was a natural result that had nothing to do with them.
Hobbs’ ultimate goal with this lawsuit was to demand a “Trial by Jury,”—which she has since succeeded despite originally being denied by a Smyth County grand jury even in the face of finding the death suspicious. According to Pike, the now federal jury trial is set to begin in August of 2024.
While this case is still pending trial, there have been a couple of interesting updates pertaining to the case. The first is that Goodman finally updated his findings. He testified before Smyth County special grand jury and confirmed with the new evidence brought forward by Pike that Givens’ death was a homicide. The second update is the case is officially under investigation by the FBI. This has helped push this case forward, as the State of Virginia seemed weary to continue investigating the lawsuit itself. Pike believes their involvement will lead to a second-degree murder charge for all five correctional officers.
Although this case is awaiting trial, it’s safe to say that it would have likely gone nowhere without Pike’s expertise. Not only is he uncovering the truth about Givens’ death, but he has raised a broader concern about the prison’s conditions in general. However, Pike says the real heroes of this case are Hobbs and the witnesses. “If she had never filed a lawsuit if nobody had pushed back on this, these people would have gotten away with a murder. I have to give it to the girlfriend and even more to the inmate. For them to step forward, that’s a big deal,” Pike muses. This is an ongoing case. Follow us for updates as this story progresses at WorkingPImag.com.
About the Author
Kendra Budd is the Editor of Working PI magazine and the Marketing Coordinator for OREP, providing E&O for over 12,000 professionals in the US. She graduated with a BA in Theatre and English from Western Washington University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.