Janitor trapped in courthouse holding cell for days recovering at hospital

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Changes are coming to the Orange County Courthouse after a 72-year-old janitor spent three days trapped in a holding cell there.


Libia Vargas De Dinas says she was cleaning the cell around 9:30 p.m. Friday evening when the door closed behind her and locked. She says she knocked on the door and tried to pull it open, but nothing worked.

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Not only was she trapped, but she couldn’t call for help because her cell phone was left on her janitorial cart just outside the locked cell.

To make matters worse, Vargas De Dinas is diabetic and went days without insulin or food before she was discovered Monday morning.

Channel 9 spoke with Vargas De Dinas as she recovered in the hospital. She says she thought she was going to die in the cell and could only pray to survive with nothing but water from a small faucet over the toilet to sustain her.

Vargas De Dinas wasn’t prepared to share her story on camera yet, but says she’s thanking god she’s alive.

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An Orange County Government spokesperson says an automatic door closer on the cell is what led to De Dinas being locked in the cell and not the result of a defective lock as initially thought.

They added that the automatic door closer has been removed “to ensure this does not happen again.”

In an email, an Orange County spokesperson said, since the incident, they’ve mandated that the security company walk every space within the janitorial footprint.

The incident also raised questions about the security company tasked with patrolling the courthouse, Allied Security Services.

According to an incident report, security officers were on duty every day that Vargas De Dinas was locked in the cell. The report goes on to name each of the security officers who worked during the time she was there.

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Allied Security Services hasn’t responded to requests for comments on the incident. The janitorial company Vargas De Dinas works for has also declined to comment so far.

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