Lifer Jesse “Blue” Wells, who friends said did his time quietly and with dignity, died of cardiac arrest Dec. 28 at the San Quentin medical facility. He was 56.
“When I got here he was in the cell,” said Carley McFarland, his cellmate. “Jesse and I never had a disagreement. He was an easy-going man who just wanted to be left alone.”
McFarland said Wells was a people’s person who genuinely got along with everybody.
Wells was convicted in 1996 and was serving a sentence under the Three Strikes Law. He used to joke about how he was going to do all of his time, McFarland said.
“I never met anybody like him,” said McFarland. “So when Correctional Officer Lujan came to my cell and told me he didn’t make it, that shocked me.”
Wells reported chest pains and was taken to San Quentin’s on-site medical facility, where he died later in the day.
“He had diabetes and high blood pressure and other medical issues,” McFarland said. “Dr. Crenshaw was on him about his weight too because Jesse was 300 pounds or more easy.”
McFarland said he was moved to Administrative Segregation pending an investigation and autopsy.
“I knew that’s how they do it, I knew I had to take the ride,” McFarland said. “I didn’t like being in the hole, but I knew I had to go.”
“He just left too soon”
McFarland said they gave him a day to clear his head, but he thinks the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation should come up with another process, especially if an individual you share a cell with dies outside of the cell.
“I met him in 2011,” said Darryl Williams who has been incarcerated since 2001. “Jesse had the biggest heart and was like a father figure.”
Williams got in touch with Wells’ daughter, Renetta, to let her know of her father’s passing. Renetta was the love of her father’s life, Williams said, and he talked about her all the time.
“When I talked to her, I could hear it in her voice that she loved him too,” said Williams. “She said his wife died on the same day Jesse died,” which was during the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. Renetta told him the mortuary wanted $1,500 to fly his body back to New Orleans.
“She couldn’t afford to raise the money for the flight and also pay for her father’s burial fees,” Williams said. He and some other men in blue tried to raise money to help her, but they didn’t have enough time.
Renetta recently consented to a cremation ceremony at Mount Tamalpais Mortuary, which has a contract with San Quentin State Prison. “He just left too soon,” Carley McFarland said. “Way too soon.”
Wells was born May 5, 1956. He is survived by his daughter and a sister.