Inmate found dead at state prison in Lancaster, officials suspect cell mate

LANCASTER – Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating the possible killing of a 46-year-old male inmate at the state prison in Lancaster.

The man’s cell mate has been indentified as the main suspect, according to Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Thornton said a little before 7 a.m. Sunday, correctional officers were serving breakfast when one of the inmates notified the officers that his cell mate was dead. Officers found the inmate unresponsive in his bunk under the blanket, and emergency efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, said Thornton. The man was pronounced dead at 7:21 a.m.

Thornton said officials from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Officer determined that the death was “suspicious,” and that’s when a homicide investigation began.

A statement by the Sheriff’s Department issued Sunday said homicide detectives were en route to the 44000 block of 60th Street West in Lancaster to assist the California Department of Corrections in its investigation of an inmate who was declared dead at the prison Sunday.

“The cell mate has been identified as a suspect and he is being single celled,” said Thornton Monday. “He (cell mate) is 44 years old and serving a 30-year sentence for assault with the intent to commit a specific sex offense.”

Officials have not released the name of the suspect, but Thornton said officials may identify the suspect at a later date.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, the dead inmate’s next of kin had not yet been notified, so officials were unable to release the man’s name. But Thornton said the 46-year-old deceased inmate was serving an eight-year sentence for 2nd degree robbery. He also had three prior terms. In 1990, he served time for possession of a controlled substance; in 1993, he served a conviction for arson; and in 1997, he served time in state prison for assault with a deadly weapon. All of the man’s offenses were committed in Los Angeles county, Thornton said.