by Justin McFatridge
On September 22, 2022, a guard was fired by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) after he twice failed to check on a state prisoner who then committed suicide. The firing came less than two months after the prisoner, Chad Isaak, 48, fatally hanged himself at North Dakota State Penitentiary on July 31, 2022. He was serving four life sentences, one for each person he was convicted of killing in 2019.
The now-fired guard, Sgt. Deandre Adams, failed to properly inspect Isaak’s cell during two routine checks, according to a State Highway Patrol investigation released the month after the death. When he found cardboard over the prisoner’s cell door window, Adams told investigators he did not do a full inspection because guards were used to finding such attempts by prisoners at maintaining privacy, and even if forced to take down the cardboard they would inevitably put it back up.
Isaak was convicted of murdering four people in Mandan on April 1, 2019, including RJR Maintenance and Management co-owner Robert Fakler and three employees: Adam Fueher, Bill Cobb, and Lois Cobb. RJR managed the property where Isaak lived, but prosecutors introduced no motive for the killings, winning conviction on DNA evidence linking the chiropractor and former Navy medic to the crime scene. He filed an appeal, which was still pending at his death.
His suicide reportedly shocked those who knew him. There was no suspicion of foul play, DCR said, and no sign of depression or suicidal tendencies, according to his family and his cellmate, Dondarro Watts, who discovered the prisoner hanging in their shared cell. Isaak was then rushed to a Bismarck hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner concluded he died from hanging. But investigators could not determine whether he might have been saved had the guard carried out his cell checks and found Isaak sooner.
Noting that Adams had been reprimanded twice before, Warden James Sayler stated in his termination letter to the guard, “Your credibility, professionalism, and the trust I had in you as a Sergeant are irreparably damaged.”
Sources: Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, KFGO, KFYR, KRDO, Morton County & Madan News
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