‘They Killed Him’ Officials Delayed Care For Vermont Inmate Suffering From Untreated Cancer

Bobby Hutt died of cancer in October 2014, after suffering for over a year. His sisters say the Vermont Department of Corrections “killed him” by waiting until the cancer got so bad that Bobby’s leg broke beneath him.

Like many people who have lost a loved one to cancer, his sisters look back on his decline with a mix of love and despair.

Bobby’s older sister, Melissa Dumont, and younger sister, Janice Hutt, spent most of 2014 fighting to bring Bobby home.

He found out about his diagnosis in January 2014, as an inmate at a privately owned prison in Arizona contracted by the Vermont Department of Corrections. Before his diagnosis, Bobby spent months requesting medical care for a pain in his leg. One day in November 2013 as he put his pants on in his cell, his sisters say, Bobby’s femur snapped.

He was sent to emergency surgery in a nearby hospital. According to a lawsuit filed by his sisters, the bone in his leg was visibly abnormal during surgery. Bobby wasn’t told about his cancer for weeks after that.

That’s one of those things his sisters still seethe about. They haven’t forgiven the Vermont Department of Corrections officials who they say allowed this to happen, or the prison staff who missed opportunities to get their brother the help he needed.

“I think if they had acknowledged when he broke his femur that he had cancer and had started treatments then, he may have had more time with us,” Dumont says.

“Or if they had actually done an X-Ray when he first started complaining about his leg,” Janice Hutt adds. “You know, maybe he wouldn’t have broken it. Maybe it wouldn’t have spread, and he’d still be here.”

‘Inexplicably Ignored’

Bobby Hutt’s trouble with the law started when he was young, in the early 1980s, his sisters say. After their parents separated, Bobby lived with Melissa and one of her other brothers in their childhood home.

“One day, the cops came to the house and they arrested Bobby,” Dumont recalls. “They said that he had stolen stuff from a neighbor’s house. So I think that was, to me, that was the beginning of when he started going to jail and things started going downhill.”

Dumont says she remembers visiting Bobby in the local jail in Woodstock. She’d bring pizza.

Janice Hutt, Bobby’s younger sister, says he was in and out of jail for years.

“There were small stints in and out of the Woodstock jail. For petty things, but you know he started with smoking pot and it all went downhill from there,” she says. “I was pretty young so I don’t remember everything, but I think it escalated rather quickly.”

Dumont says cocaine entered the picture.

“And then heroin,” Janice says. “Heroin was his downfall.”

By 2013, Bobby had been in prison for three years serving time for three counts of assault and robbery with a weapon, grand larceny and various driving offenses, according to Vermont’s Department of Corrections.

He was eligible for release in January 2017, and the state was housing him at a private prison in Arizona because of a lack of available space in Vermont’s prisons.

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