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Robert Rowan: A Smith County tragedy

Jan 1st, 2015 | Category: Families Speak Out

safe_image From Robert’s family: “There is not a day that goes by that we don’t think about you, Robert. We love you and miss you more that you will ever know. Your death  was something that should not have happened. We still don’t understand why. But I promised you I would not let your death go without   having the answers we need.

“Robert Rowan was born Aug 27, 1987, and he was a great man. He loved his family with all his heart. He loved to be out on the boat with his cousin William. William now wants to sell the boat because it was his and Roberts’s thing. He enjoyed working on cars, riding dirt bikes, riding back roads, having a cold beer and just enjoying life.

“Robert lost his step dad and step mom so life was hard at times, but he kept his head up. Even though Robert didn’t get to see his daughter Brielle very often, he knew she was a daddy’s girl. Brielle looks just like him so we still get to see him in her. His son Jayden—he is all boy! He loves his daddy. He loved being at the lake with him going any place he could just to be with his dad. Jayden wants his dad back, but he also knows that he is in heaven. It’s hard to see two young kids growing up so fast without Robert. They both miss him so much—we all do.

“I can remember the day his mother brought Robert home from the hospital. Gloria would not let anyone touch him—you would think he was made of glass. Then when he started walking she would have to follow beside him with a wet wash cloth so she could wipe his hands and feet, never wanting him to get dirty or play in the dirt like little boys do. And if he even got a scratch or fell down, someone was in trouble, and it was not going to be Robert. Robert was his mom’s whole world.

“On October 24, 2014, Robert was incarcerated at Smith County Jail (Tyler Texas) on a 180 day commitment for nonpayment of child support. He was in the low risk unit in Tyler. We do know on Oct 31 he was still at the low risk until, so sometime over the weekend he was moved back to downtown and put in a one man cell. On November 3, 2014—only 10 days later—Robert was found dead in his cell. Robert was only 27 and had no medical issues when he went into jail.

“We think that Robert was detoxing from Xanax, and Smith County was told about this many times by Robert’s mother, Gloria. She was told that they would make note of it and see if they could give him something to help with the detoxing. We still do this day do not know if he was ever given any thing.

“Smith County has not given us any answers to what happen to Robert. Robert’s body was taken to Dallas for autopsy. So until that is back we still don’t know what happened. Smith County is known for its corruption and we think that they are going to cover up what really happened to Robert.

“Thank you Texas jail project for listening to me and letting me share Roberts’s story. It is important to us that people hear about him and how much his family and friends loved him.”

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Brenda Bamburg

Hannah , sorry for your loss. My son & I started a website against Smith County Abuse. Roberts family have joined it. I will try & look you up on FB & send you a friend request where I can send you the site if you wish to file your complaint & invite your FB F&F to join & post!
If we get enough we have a greater chance to get an att. to fight our case! Thank you Mrs. Brenda Bamburg of Tyler Tx.


Robert I’m still not done yet. I promised you your death will not go without answer.
See you on the other side babe

Pamela Hutchings

I am so sorry that this happened and that his family is hurting. My daughter was in the GEO facility in San Antonio and did not receive her life saving medications for many days. She had previously had a kidney transplant and needed immunosuppressants so as not to reject the kidney. I would call the Facility Warden, Dr., Nurse and others and got numerous different stories that proved their lies. Also in the middle of summer there was no air conditioning for the inmates; yet the guards across the hall sat in an air conditioned room with jackets and had… Read more »


My brother was in custody in Hunt co. jail and he was severely addicted to Methadone that we taking for pain. I called that jail numerous times to tell them that as a methadone withdraw is one of the worst withdraws anyone can go through. They gave him tylenol! If that, I’m not even sure he got that. These inmates are not treated humanely at all. They don’t care! Also, my ex sister-in-law died while in custody at the Dallas County Jail in Dallas in Dec. of 2013. She had called several family members asking them to bring her medicine… Read more »

Wendy Spangler

Prayers going out to my dear friends on the loss of their son.

Hannah Francis

Smith county needs to pay for this. His family and friend hurt everyay from his loss due to the jails neglegence. I have to watch my daughter everyday cry over her daddy and i do myself as well her whole outlook on life has changed and she is only eight. No child should have to go thru losing a parent and no mother or father should have to lose their child. Too many deaths in smith county alone have occured anfd i will not go without having the answers we need either.

Brenda Bamburg

Hannah, my son & I have started a website against Smith County Jail for Abuse & deaths of the inmates. I will look you up on FB & send you a friend request, then I can send you a request to join our complaint list against Smith Co. we are looking to find an att. or att ‘s that will take a class action suit against them. The more we have the better chance we have! In Isaiah 42:6&7 49:9-10 God tells us that our prisons are to be run by righteous men, & how our prisoners are to be… Read more »

Martha J Simpson

First of all this is a terrible thing that the jail system needs to be accountable, for what has happened to your son, to your husband ….it is a honorable thing to have to live through and this is something that I would never had to learn about but I am so worried for my husband. He is in bad health and has to go to TDC for a 2 years sentence over a broken gun but I am greatful it was not 25 to 99 year sentence and I been reading on ways to make sure he is taken… Read more »


Martha I will pray for your husband thank you for your kind words for Robert. I promised him that I would make sure someone pays for his death. Its still so hard to deal with his passing. A parent should never have to fight to even see and say good bye to their child. Smith County is know for there corruption. And it has been this way for a very long time. God bless you and keep your head up because that’s were it all is.