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Ohio Prison Officials Announce Measures to Prevent Another Transport Bus Murder

by Matt Clarke

On June 8, 2018, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) announced new measures to prevent another murder from occurring on its transport buses.

Those measures included replacing a “significant number” of buses with new vehicles featuring factory-installed camera systems to monitor passengers and separate compartments for three security levels – including segregation compartments to isolate prisoners who pose “an extraordinary safety risk.” The ODRC also said it would increase training of transportation officers, expand random checks of restraints and add GPS tracking to its transport vehicles.

The new measures were spurred by the strangulation death of prisoner David Johnson, 61, by Casey Pigge, 30, on a bus traveling between Columbus and Ross County on February 1, 2017. The murder went unnoticed by guards and the ODRC has refused to release an internal report on the incident.

According to other prisoners, Pigge, who was restrained and sitting in the back of the bus, slipped off his belly chain, moved up three rows and wrapped the three-foot chain around Johnson’s neck. Witnesses said Pigge pulled so hard on the chain that Johnson was lifted out of his seat. After checking Johnson’s pulse to make sure he was dead, Pigge bragged about the murder, saying, “I guess you never seen that on a bus before.”

Pigge was serving a 41-to-life sentence for the September 2008 murder of Rhonda Sommers, his then-girlfriend’s mother, by slitting her throat. He had been found ineligible for the death penalty due to his low IQ and mental health problems. In January 2017, Pigge pleaded guilty to murdering his cellmate, Luther Wade, 26, by beating him to death with a concrete block pried loose from the wall of his cell at the Lebanon Correctional Facility. [See: PLN, Feb. 2017, p.63]. He received another life sentence for Wade’s death. Afterwards, he reportedly asked a prosecutor how many people he had to kill to be considered a serial killer.

In September 2017, Pigge pleaded guilty to murdering Johnson on the transport bus and was sentenced to another 25 years.

Despite murdering Wade and Johnson, and threatening to kill again, Pigge was not moved to a supermax facility until he and another prisoner became suspects in a brutal attack on ODRC guard Matthew Mathias, who was stabbed multiple times in February 2018. 


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