Sister of woman inmate found dead inside Lenoir County Jail speaks, former inmate points to “inhumane” jail conditions

LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -The sister of an inmate who deputies say died at a jail here in the east over the weekend is speaking out.

When Jennifer Blake woke up Monday morning, she didn’t know she’d be getting a call about her little sister Stephanie Osowski being dead.

“To hear on Monday that she passed on Saturday is a big shock,” Blake said. “A lot of questions and we kind of want a lot of answers to what’s going on.”

Osowski was an inmate who deputies say was found dead inside the Lenoir County jail Saturday morning.

There’s no word yet on how the 40-year-old died but Quarla Blackwell, who was an inmate with Osowski, says her friend’s death came as a surprise.

“It’s rough down there,” Blackwell said. “Stephanie was only 40 years old and when I left, she was a healthy person and upbeat.”

Osowski had been in jail since June 2023, serving time for multiple drug-related offenses.

“My sister was a troubled soul, but she’s my sister so I always loved her and was always there for her,” Blake said.

Blackwell says the female inmates are treated differently than the male inmates. She says the women are housed at the old jail in the courthouse basement.

She fears Osowski’s death could be drug-related.

“You can pass stuff from block to block,” Blackwell said. “If something gets in the jail then everyone has access to it. those holes in the walls are that big.”

Blake agreed with Blackwell as she says her sister was never given access to her bipolar medication.

“Mental illness is something that needs to be taken seriously in the prison system because a lot of people need that medication,” Blake said.

Osowski’s family is now faced with the financial struggle of trying to get her back home up north.

“We want to get her home here where we know she’s actually at peace and has a final resting place where I can go visit my sister,” Blake said.

Sheriff Jackie Rogers will be holding a press conference Tuesday to address Osowski’s death with this being the second death at the jail in less than a year.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Osowski.