WISE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Anwar Phillips was convicted of murder and spent time in solitary confinement before he was found dead in his cell on Jan. 4, 2022.

Anwar’s mother, Vernetta Phillips has worked to get answers from the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) since his body was discovered. Since she started her efforts, he has had little luck finding answers to her son’s death.

VADOC told Phillips her son was killed and a fellow inmate William Pettigrew had been charged with murder and strangulation. Phillips said she was told that William passed a hand-braided rope from his cell to Phillips’ where Phillips then committed suicide.

Aerial view of Red Onion State Prison

However, Phillips claims her son wasn’t suicidal. Instead, he feared for his life and reached out to the Interfaith Action for Human Rights about his concerns for his safety. While she waits for answers, she is also waiting for surveillance video of the crime that VDOC told her they are in possession of.

Since the incident, Natasha White, the Director of Community Engagement at Interfaith Action for Human Rights said she has continued to support the Phillips family. She told 8News she believes that VDOC’s claims are hard to believe.

“Anything could have happened in that cell, and nobody would have known about it for hours. Obviously, look how long it took them to find him,” White said. “The allegations that, you know, somebody else in another cell possibly killed him are outrageous. It shows you that there needs to be somebody to answer to. Who was manning the cameras?”

After being held in solitary confinement herself, White said she will do whatever it takes to get justice for Anwar.

“We can’t bring Anwar back, but if we get justice for what they did to him and find out the truth, it will prevent other people from suffering the same fate,” White said.

William Pettigrew is expected to face a jury trial on Jan. 4, 2022. Exactly one year since the incident happened.