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Family left without answers two months after loved one dies in MCSO custody

The mom and sister of Arnulfo Quezada Jr. say he was in the hospital for three days before they found out

PHOENIX — In her Phoenix home, Armida Quezada has a memorial dedicated to her son.

“He is my best friend,” Quezada said through tears while talking about Arnulfo Quezada Jr., 30, who died while in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office custody in February.

The display shows photos of Arnulfo, the clothing he would wear, and a pair of Converse sneakers that were his favorite. Tucked underneath are messages of love written by friends and family during Arnulfo's funeral service.

“We’ve been through good times, bad times, but one thing he did is he had a heart (for) helping others," Armida Quezada said. "That’s the one thing I will never forget.”

RELATED: At least 95 inmates have died in MCSO custody since 2020

Alexis Banuelos, sitting next to her mom while holding her hand, describes her brother Arnulfo as a caring and loving person.

“He was always goofy and he loved spending time with his kids,” Banuelos said.

Arnulfo Quezada was arrested in 2021 for burglary and drug possession according to court records. His family said Arnulfo was waiting for his trial when they were told he was found unconscious in his cell and taken to the hospital.

“He was put on a ventilator, and he wasn't breathing or anything on his own,” Banuelos said.

However, the Quezada family had no idea this was happening until they say MCSO deputies knocked on their door three days after Arnulfo was admitted.

“My heart just dropped," Armida said.

She said the deputies told her Arnulfo Quezada was in the hospital and she needed to see him that day. Two days later Arnulfo Quezada died.

“It wasn't fitting, and it made us really angry,” Banuelos said.

The Quezadas thought they were alone in this. Until they saw a recent story by 12News regarding the death of 20-year-old Sam Fagan, who also died in MCSO custody after being put on life support.

RELATED: Parents demand answers after son dies in MCSO custody 

“When we [saw] information about Sam, it was just really, it was really gut-wrenching, because he was younger than our brother,” Banuelos said.

Now, just like the Fagan family, the Quezadas said they have no answers as to what happened to their loved one all this time later.

“The fact that it's been two months, and we still don't have closure or answers as to what really happened is really, it's really aggravating to us because even though we want to move forward, we can't,” Banuelos said.


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