Four inmates who allegedly set fire to a North Carolina corrections facility in an escape attempt have been charged with murder.
Two prison employees died in the fire in the sewing plant at Pasquotank Correctional Facility in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on Oct. 12.
Attempted escape at Pasquotank CI in Elizabeth City. Fires set in prison sewing plant. Several employees injured. More info when available.
— NC Public Safety (@NCPublicSafety) October 12, 2017
Inmates working in the prison’s sewing plant set a fire as a distraction and attempted to escape.
Four of the would-be escapees were charged, but others may have been involved. More charges are expected.
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble announced Friday, Oct. 20, that inmates Wisezah Buckman, Seth J. Frasier, Mikel Brady, and Jonathan M. Monk were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Justin Smith, a 35-year-old correctional officer and Veronica Darden, a 50-year-old correction enterprises manager, were killed in the abortive escape attempt. Darden trained inmates at the sewing plant to make safety vests and other embroidered products. Smith provided security at the shop.
Womble said this was the “most serious matter I’ve ever prosecuted.”
— NC Public Safety (@NCPublicSafety) October 13, 2017
It is not clear what caused both deaths, but the Charlotte Observer reported an emergency official radioed that at least one corrections officer had been “struck multiple times with a hammer.”
Ten prison employees required medical treatment after the fire. Seven were treated and released.
Pasquotank Correctional Institution is a high-security prison with a capacity for 896 inmates. it currently houses 729 inmates, a mix of minimum-security and high-security felons.
Minimum-security inmates are allowed to work outside the facility on road crews for the county.
— Iowa Corrections (@IowaCorrections) October 13, 2017
The facility has had other issues this year.
In February a corrections officer, Angela Craddock Brown was caught trying to smuggle drugs, cellphones, and cigarettes into the prison.
Brown, 43, was charged with possession of marijuana to sell and deliver, delivering marijuana, providing drugs to inmates, and bringing drugs to a jail.
In April, an inmate was stabbed multiple times after an argument with another inmate.
Larry Eugene Allred, 24, stabbed 29-year-old Trenton Devay Hodge several times in the upper torso. Hodge was treated at Sentara Albemarle Hospital and taken back to prison.
Allred is serving time for robbery with a dangerous weapon. Hodge was convicted of felony breaking and entering.