'No one even contacted me': Family speaks after Manitoba man serving jail time in Mexico dies
Published Tuesday, December 22, 2015 9:24PM CST Last Updated Wednesday, December 23, 2015 8:59PM CST
A Manitoba man serving a jail sentence in a Mexican prison has died, according to his family and Canada’s federal department of Global Affairs.
Bruce Vigfusson, 45, died in hospital on Monday in the northern city of Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora.
Vigfusson’s son, Colt, who lives in Manitoba’s Interlake region, said he learned of the death after being contacted by an inmate serving time at the same prison as his father.
“I just had a little boy and he’s just turning five months and now he’ll never get a chance to meet his grandpa,” said Colt.
According to an initial report into the cause of death given to Colt, his father died of pulmonary edema, a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs, and cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle is abnormal.
Vigfusson had been serving a four-and-a-half year sentence in Hermosillo for an assault stemming from a crime his family said was committed in self-defence.
Vigfusson told CTV News one year ago that his home was invaded in August 2012 while his family and children were inside.
"Four street thugs came up to the house and one pulled out a tire iron and one pulled out a hammer and they attacked," Bruce Vigfusson told CTV over the phone from prison in Hermosillo, Mexico last December.
Family members said Vigfusson was sentenced for attacking one of the invaders.
Prior to his conviction, Vigfusson had been working in Mexico’s mining industry.
Letters from prison
Colt said his father had been suffering from an infection in prison and had been receiving injections for it. Recently, he had received letters from his father.
“Colt, sorry I’m feeling very bad,” Bruce wrote. “I’m very sick, I can’t breathe.”
Global Affairs Canada said the Canadian government does not cover the cost for repatriation of a body when there’s a death abroad.
Colt said his family will have to pay $6,000 and that a member of the family must travel to Mexico to identify his dad’s body before his remains can be brought back to Canada.
However, Colt isn’t certain where the body is being stored.
It’s a task that seems daunting for the family; Colt said he feels nervous about visiting Mexico without “protection,” considering what his dad’s been through.
“One of us is going to have to go to Mexico to figure this out,” he said. “We’ve got to move fast.”
Colt said he’s been disappointed with the Canadian government’s response to the family’s request for assistance.
“No one even contacted me to tell me that my dad passed away,” he said.
Despite his father’s death, Colt said he still wants the legal process to move forward to show people his dad did not belong in jail.
Referring to the letter his dad wrote, Colt said that’s what his father would want him to do.
“In this letter… he knows he’s not guilty,” said Colt. “(He) wants his son to continue the court case to show that he’s a free man.”
Bruce Vigfusson’s lawyer in Mexico told CTV News on Wednesday he was trying to introduce new evidence in the case.
Arturo Melendez Perez said the evidence was a 911 call, which he said Bruce placed during the invasion to ask for help; however, the evidence was initially denied by a judge.
Perez said the judge had requested an examination for discovery and that a date for that to happen was going to be set in January 2016.
Now that Bruce is dead, Perez said there’s no more case.
Bruce Vigfusson wanted restitution for the time he spent in jail, no criminal record and his freedom.