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News in Brief

Alabama: According to WSFA in Montgomery, a guard at the Montgomery County Detention Center was charged on July 18, 2023, with conspiracy to provide contraband to a prisoner as well as bribing a public official. Timothy Bernard Summerlin, 33, had worked at the lockup for roughly three and a half years before his arrest, which took place in a Walmart parking lot following a seven-month investigation conducted by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Summerlin was then charged in federal court.

California: KGET in Bakersfield reported that a state prisoner was convicted of assaulting a Wasco State Prison (WSP) guard on June 7, 2023. Not quite two weeks later, farther north in California, a Solano County Jail (SCJ) prisoner pleaded guilty to assaulting another guard there, according to the Vacaville Reporter. For attacking the unnamed WSP guard in July 2022, a Kern County jury convicted Jose Carrasco, 27. He was set for release in 2024 but now faces up to 10 more years of incarceration. The SCJ prisoner, Derek Edward Dunlap Jr., 32, admitted assaulting a guard there in 2020. His three-year sentence will run concurrently with a sentence of 25 years to life he received after pleading no contest to killing a homeless man, Alexander Lind, 28, in February 2018.

California: A former state prison guard was convicted on July 17, 2023, of lying to a federal grand jury that was investigating an assault on a prisoner. According to Yahoo News, the jury deadlocked on four other charges against Brenda Villa, including an accusation that she tried to get other guards at New Folsom to go along with the coverup. The assault she tried to hide happened on September 15, 2016, when prisoner Ronnie Price, 65, was tripped during escort by guard Arturo Pacheco, causing Price to fall and smash his face into the concrete floor. He was taken to the medical center where he eventually died of a pulmonary embolism. Pacheco pled guilty to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. A fellow guard involved, Ashely Marie Aurich, pled guilty to falsifying records. Pacheco was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison. Aurich was sentenced to 21 months in prison. [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.32.]

Villa has asked the judge to throw out her perjury conviction, as well as four other charges on which the jury failed to reach a verdict. Although she was not present at the actual beating, Villa was considered to have orchestrated the deception and could face up to five years in prison if Senior U.S. District Court Judge William B. Shubb denies the motion to dismiss charges.

Colorado: KRDO in Colorado Springs reported on June 28, 2023, that the state Department of Corrections (DOC) had quietly arrested three prisoners for the murder of a fourth – which was never announced. Before the fatal attack, prisoners were playing cards, watching TV, and drinking alcohol according to the arrest affidavit. Charles Porter then punched another prisoner, prompting Nicholas Hill and a fourth prisoner to come to the defense. Porter and prisoners Turell Lee and Justin Sanders then viciously kicked Hill, who was airlifted to a hospital where he was declared brain dead. Hill’s father, Danny Cochran, blamed prison officials for staff shortages that contributed to his son’s death. He said Hill had recently been moved to the State Penitentiary in Cañon City for his protection. Hill would have been released just a few months after his murder had he lived.

Florida: WTVT in Tampa reported that a state prison guard was charged with evidence tampering in a friend’s road-rage incident. The victim in that incident spotted Derick Wilkerson, 31, as both were driving in their Winter Haven neighborhood on July 17, 2023. When they got out of their vehicles, Wilkerson pointed a gun at the unnamed victim and threatened to kill him. Wilkerson then followed the victim back to his vehicle, raised the gun and fired it into the sky. At that moment, his friend, Polk Correctional Institution guard Stacy Newton, 31, arrived and told Wilkerson to leave. She then picked up his bullet casing and put it in her pocket. Security footage from a nearby residence captured the scene. Wilkerson and Newton both confessed to police. Wilkerson has an extensive rap sheet and has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and improper exhibit of a firearm.

Georgia: The Augusta Press reported that a pregnant healthcare employee working for Wellpath, a medical services contractor for the state DOC, was arrested on June 23, 2023. Faatimah Maddox, 30, was caught having sex with a prisoner at Augusta State Medical Prison. The two were discovered when prisoner Joshua Demery came up missing during a headcount. Prison staff then found him alone with Maddox amid soiled sheets in a prison operating room. She confessed to having intercourse on several occasions with Demery. She was also four months pregnant and said he could be the father of her baby. Demery is serving life for shooting a woman in the face during a violent armed robbery. Maddox was arrested for sexual assault by a person with supervisory or disciplinary authority, a felony with a maximum 25-year prison sentence. She had worked as a surgical technician for various companies over the past several years.

Illinois: On July 18, 2023, former Pinckneyville Correctional Center guard Cord Williams, 35, pled guilty to violating a prisoner’s civil rights by using excessive force under color of law and conspiracy to obstruct justice by falsifying incident reports. KFVS in Cape Giradeau, Missouri, reported that the charges resulted from an incident on April 24, 2022, when Williams and another guard, Christian Pyles, 25, beat a prisoner while he was fully restrained in handcuffs and leg irons. Another guard, Mark C. Maxwell, 52, was charged in the indictment on a separate civil rights violation for failing to intervene while he was acting lieutenant. Williams said he beat the prisoner for punching another guard on a previous occasion. The beating caused severe injuries, including facial fractures, multiple lacerations, lung damage and a chipped tooth. The conspiracy count noted that the guards colluded to file false reports. The charges against Pyles and Maxwell remain pending.

Indiana: WBIW in Bedford reported that a prisoner went on a stabbing spree at a group therapy session on April 28, 2023, at the New Castle Correctional Facility, which is run by private prison titan Geo Group. During the session, one of the prisoner attendees, Ronald Earl Menzie, 46, produced a metal object and began stabbing the therapist in her neck and throat. The other prisoners tried to intervene, and one was stabbed in the chest. According to The Star Press, both victims were rushed to Indiana University’s Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, where the therapist’s wounds had to be stapled. She later said in an interview that Menzie was playing cards by himself and did not appear angry. One guard thought Menzie’s weapon could have been produced with the metal shelving in his cell. The wounded prisoner reported that Menzie “thinks the correctional officer and the chow hall (are) trying to poison him through his food.”

Indiana: An Indiana jail transport guard was killed in the van he was driving by a detainee passenger on July 10, 2023, NBC News reported. Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy John Durm, 61, was escorting Orlando Mitchell, 34, to a hospital visit in Indianapolis, when the detainee assaulted Durm while the vehicle idled in the fortified entrance of the Adult Detention Center. Mitchell then stole the vehicle but crashed into a utility pole, and he was captured by other deputies. He was in custody to await trial for murdering his ex-girlfriend.

Indiana: Northwest Indiana Times reported that a body scan of an incoming detainee on May 17, 2023, revealed “what appeared to be a foreign object inside the anal cavity” – an 8.5-inch pair of scissors. The unnamed individual being booked into the LaPorte County Jail resisted the scan, the county sheriff’s office reported. Cpt. Derek Allen commended scan operator Lt. Jeff Holt “for relying upon his training and experience, and successfully preventing a dangerous-edged object from making its way fully into the jail.” The sheriff’s office said the body scanner was an extremely valuable tool because it has led to the seizure of many contraband items including “tattooing equipment, drugs, paraphernalia and miscellaneous foreign objects.”

Iowa: On June 29, 2023, Kevin M. Delveau, 32, a former jail guard with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, was sentenced to a suspended 10-year prison sentence and placed on three years of probation, the Quad City Times reported. His five-year career as a jailer had ended in October 2022, when Delveau arrived at the home of a woman with a protective order against him. The intoxicated guard demanded to be let inside, and when he was refused, he broke the door glass and forced his way into the home. According to court documents, once he found the woman inside the house, Delveau screamed obscenities and threatened her.  Sheriff Tim Lane said that Delveau’s county employment ended after he entered his guilty plea to second-degree burglary and domestic abuse.

Kentucky: Joshua Rogers, 22, a former guard at the Fayette County Detention Center, will have the opportunity to see what the facility looks like from the other side of the bars. According to WLEX in Lexington, Rogers was fired on June 27, 2022, the same day he was arrested for sexual assault against a prisoner. Court records detail that Rogers was charged with “deviate sexual intercourse with an inmate.” Jamie Gray, who is transgender, alleged that Rogers forced her to perform oral sex on him. Rogers was also charged with third-degree sodomy. Rogers pleaded guilty, and sentencing was set for August 17, 2023.  More victims have since come forward and filed a lawsuit against Rogers and the Lexington-Fayette government, alleging the jail was not properly staffed to prevent their sexual assault. In the suit filed in Fayette County Circuit Court on June 6, 2023, two other detainees, Jason Costick and Joey Bardelas, allege Rogers sexually assaulted them, too. Defendant jail officials removed the case to the federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on June 29, 2023. See: Costick v. Lexington-Fayette Urban Cty. Gov’t, USDC (E.D. Ky.), Case No. 5:23-cv-00198. 

Maryland: Former Prince George’s County DOC guard Danielle Dominique Smith, 34, pled guilty on July 14, 2023, to smuggling controlled substances into a county lockup. Smith had 12 years under her belt as a guard before love interrupted her career; DC News Now reported that she had developed a romance with a prisoner. Evidence of the relationship was taped on phone calls from June 2021 to March 2022, when the pair cleverly used the term “food products” to refer to the drugs. Smith conspired with her boyfriend and other prisoners to distribute Suboxone and K2 (synthetic marijuana). First, she attained the drugs from co-conspirators outside the facility, then she smuggled them on diet food trays specifically assigned to the prisoner. He then finished the transaction by delivering the drugs to other prisoners. During an intercepted phone call on March 2, 2022, Smith told her lover she was bringing the “meals.” When she arrived at work, she was suspended. If the federal court accepts her plea agreement, Smith will be sentenced to six months of home detention.

Mississippi: According to The Natchez Democrat, on June 14, 2023, police arrested Douglas Mazique, 28, a guard at the Adams County Correctional Center, which is run by private prison giant CoreCivic for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The arrest was not related to his employment as a guard; rather Mazique was charged with conspiracy to commit murder for a shooting spree on May 5, 2023, that took the lives of two 19-year-olds. More than 30 spent shells were recovered by detectives at the crime scene in front of a Cash Savers supermarket.

Mississippi:On July 19, 2023, an escapee from the Adams County Jail broke into an apartment and stole the keys to a BMW from the out-of-town occupant before crashing the vehicle into a bridal shop. Omari Jaiquan Smith, 22, was ejected from the vehicle in the crash and hospitalized. His brother, Kemari Smith, was arrested and charged with abetting the escape of his brother, who was being held on “lunacy” charges, according to The Natchez Democrat. Two weeks earlier, on July 6, 2023, another escape saga ended when the last of three teens who escaped the Henley-Young-Patton Juvenile Justice Center the previous June 27 was recaptured. Capitol Police in Jackson picked up Tayshon Holmes, 17, and Jashon Jones, 15, the Clarion-Ledger reported. The other escapee, Robert Earl Smith, Jr., 16, was picked up the day before. For overpowering a guard to make their escape, the three face assault charges in addition to their original counts, which included armed robbery, auto theft and murder.

Missouri: On June 25, 2023, a guard at the St. Louis Justice Center was indicted for assaulting a handcuffed detainee who posed no threat to him, KTTN reported. Direll Alexander, 45, allegedly attacked the detainee, resulting in injuries on March 6, 2023. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in his first court appearance and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Montana: On June 30, 2023, the Great Falls Electric reported that a newbie guard at the Cascade County Jail was fired and arrested after only six months of employment. A Verizon Wireless employee found child pornography on Garret Pederson’s phone when the former guard came in to buy a new one. Pederson, 21, allowed a detective from the Great Falls Police Department to examine the images on his device. The detective saw “hundreds” of photos in a hidden folder that “met the definition of a child engaged in sexual conduct, actual or simulated,” according to KRTV. Court documents note that Pederson has no known criminal history. He has been charged with one felony count of sexual abuse of children.

Nebraska: A former unit administrator at the Community Corrections Center in Lincoln was sentenced in July 2023 to six months in jail and fined $1,000 for inappropriate contact with a prisoner. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Nikki Peterson, 33, pleaded no contest to the felony. The relationship was uncovered when a different prisoner alleged in April 2022 that Peterson was having a sexual affair with a prisoner and giving him money to rent an apartment when he was paroled. She had worked for the prison since November 2008 and was promoted to unit coordinator in November 2020. Peterson resigned after being arrested by the Nebraska State Patrol.

New Jersey: On June 16, 2023, Byad Lockett and Darryl Watson, two prisoners at the Essex County Correctional Facility, were convicted of attempted murder, second-degree aggravated assault, and weapon offenses, according to North Jersey Media Group. A third prisoner, Isaad Jackson, was convicted on weapons charges, but the jury could not agree on other charges for him. The three men were part of a group of seven prisoners who brutally attacked detainee Jayshawn Boyd, 22, in September 2021. According to Boyd’s attorney, he is a schizophrenic who had been arrested because of violent episodes with his family during psychotic breaks. He was awaiting trial on a simple assault charge when the seven men decided to take their pound of flesh. The prisoners were seen on surveillance footage kicking, punching, and stomping Boyd for two minutes. By the time they finished, Boyd’s “limp body had been bloodied and beaten with a mop, a drink dispenser, a water jug and the microwave.” Miraculously, Boyd survived the attack, but he spent a significant amount of time in a coma which left his lower extremities paralyzed. Prosecutors will seek sentences that run consecutively to the terms that Watson, Lockett and Jackson are already serving or facing.

New Mexico: Three unnamed jailers were on administrative leave from Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Detention Center pending an investigation into the fatal beating of a jail detainee, according to KOB. The victim, John Sanchez, 34, was arrested June 8, 2023, after police found him behind the wheel of a stolen SUV. Prosecutors dismissed auto theft charges the next day due to insufficient evidence. Sanchez was due to be released on Monday, June 12, 2023 — the same day he was taken to the hospital with his fatal injuries. Benny Jaramillo, Sanchez’s father, said his son’s life had been one of tragedy and struggle because of the death of his two-year-old daughter and his subsequent addiction to fentanyl. He believes his son was experiencing serious withdrawal while in jail and should not have been “with the public.” Sanchez died on June 16, 2023, at the University of New Mexico Hospital after being taken off life support.

New Mexico: The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that a guard was fired from the San Miguel County Detention Center after showing up to work drunk on June 10, 2023 – and then offering whiskey to co-workers as he bragged about having sex with detainees. Richard Garduño, 30, left the jail that afternoon to buy some food, according to a fellow guard. Upon his return he offered another guard a shot of alcohol, which she declined. Garduño then described in graphic detail having sex with a prisoner. His fellow guards reported he had been drinking on the job, giving alcohol to prisoners and that he ordered a female prisoner to perform sexual acts. Prosecutors charged the former guard with felony criminal sexual penetration by a person in a position of authority over a prisoner, bringing contraband into a prison and tampering with evidence. Garduño was released from custody on a $30,000 bond and placed on house arrest.

New York: After Nusinaida Ramos, 34, was found fatally strangled in her Yonkers apartment in March 1997, police suspected her husband, former SingSing Correctional Facility guard Rafael Ramos, now 54. But back then Yonkers police were reluctant to move forward without a confession, according to the Daily Mail. It took prosecutors 26 years to come up with evidence to make a case against Ramos. They are now ordering him to submit a DNA sample. On the day that his wife was killed, Ramos and his girlfriend had picked up her children from her house. A family member reported that Ramos was “extremely angry” because his wife was seeking increased child support and considering a move to Florida. His bail has been set at $750,000 cash, $1 million bond or $2 million partially secured bond that would require $200,000 in cash. Ramos’ lawyer, Lynda Visco, was fighting the request for a DNA sample from her client.

New York: On July 13, 2023, Saratoga County Jail guard Carlee Ringer, 26, was arrested for attempting to smuggle Suboxone to her boyfriend, detainee Wyatt Carpenter, 28, the Ulster-Sullivan Daily Voice reported. She was charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance and promoting prison contraband. He was charged with felony attempted promoting prison contraband. Nearby the day before, on July 12, 2023, Ulster County Jail (UCJ) guard Felicia Waithe was charged with felony bribery and promoting prison contraband for smuggling banned items to detainees there. The Mid-Hudson News also reported she faces misdemeanor official misconduct charges for having inappropriate romantic relationships with several detainees at UCJ and other area lockups.

Ohio: At his sentencing on June 9, 2023, a former guard who pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into the Columbiana County Jail received no jail time, WFMJ reported. Keith McCoy, 53, was caught on October 7, 2021, as he tried to smuggle methamphetamine, buprenorphine, fentanyl-related compound and a drug known as anilino-Nphenethyl-4-piperidine into the jail. [See: PLN, Nov. 2021, p.62.] In March 2023, McCoy pleaded guilty to illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a specified government facility, possession of fentanyl-related compound and two counts aggravated possession of drugs and misdemeanor possession of drugs. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and 90 days of house arrest.

Pennsylvania: CBS News reported that Karen Langkamp, 59, is accused of flicking bodily fluids at a guard while she was being strip searched at the Butler County Prison. For allegedly “degrading an officer,” Langkamp was charged with felony aggravated assault and arrested on July 4, 2023. She was released on bail and expected in court on August 21, 2023.

Pennsylvania:A state prison guard has been convicted on contraband and smuggling charges, and two more have been arrested at county lockups. On July 11, 2023, state DOC guard Kevin B. Hoch, 41, was sentenced to at least nine-and-a-half months in jail at the Centre County Correctional Center after pleading guilty the previous May to taking $17,000 in bribes via Cash App in a scheme to smuggle K-2-laced paper to an unnamed prisoner at the State Correctional Institution in Benner Township. The Centre Daily Times also reported that Hoch was fired, fined $2,000 and ordered to provide community service. Three days later, on July 14, 2023, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that Savasia Caraballo, 32, was arrested and lost her job at the Dauphin County Prison when she admitted smuggling Suboxone in February 2023 to detainee Aric Kraft, with whom she was having an affair. Another guard, Joshua Markell, was arrested at the Bedford County Prison on June 8, 2023, after fellow guards saw him throw baggies with contraband tobacco and pills into a detainee’s cell, WTAJ reported. His bail was set at $75,000.

South Carolina: On June 12, 2023, Daniel Allen Shannon, a South Carolina prisoner serving a life term without the possibility of parole, was sentenced to a second life term in federal court for using a cellphone to hire the murder of a man whom he suspected of robbing a drug ring he ran behind bars, U.S. News reported. Shannon arranged the killing of Cletis “Eddie” Baker, after hearing that Baker had stolen from one of his drug couriers. The drug house where Baker was shot was burned down after the killing, and the body was ditched miles away. Shannon’s drug ring was impressive and stretched through Lancaster and Kershaw counties. The judge made Shannon forfeit $127,000 in cash.

South Carolina: Three South Carolina jail guards were arrested on smuggling charges in early July 2023. Joshua Rey, 23, a now-former guard at the Greenville County Detention Center (DC), was charged on July 9, 2023, with misconduct in office, distributing drugs, criminal conspiracy and furnishing contraband to detainees at the jail, according to WHNS in Greenville. The following day, on July 10, 2023, Chesterfield County DC guard Damarion McCaskill was arrested on charges of furnishing contraband cigarettes and cellphones to jail detainees, WPDE in Florence reported. Earlier that same week, on July 7, 2023, WMBF in Myrtle Beach reported that Florence County DC guard Ladayisha Bell, 30, was arrested for furnishing a detainee with a contraband cellphone, as well as trafficking fentanyl and meth.

Tennessee: Two detainees at the Henry County Corrections Facility got a brief taste of freedom after escaping on June 26, 2023, the New York Post reported. Hours later, Ronnie Sharp, 48, and Joshua Harris, 40, were recaptured. They managed to open their cell ceiling and crawl through a skylight onto the roof, jumping down to flee across a field. At that point the pair split up. Harris was apprehended eight miles away after someone saw him and called the police. Sharp was caught in another county 30 miles away the next day, after breaking into a home and biting the homeowner, who managed to put the fugitive in a chokehold. The state Bureau of Investigation said that a truck the two stole was found in Kentucky, where Sharp last lived.

Texas: Ashlee Denae Sroufe, 43, a guard at the Allred Unit, was jailed on charges of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance on June 17, 2023, for allegedly delivering drugs and cellphones to prisoners, KFDX/KJTL in Wichita Falls reported. An undercover agent working with the Wichita Falls Police and the state Office of the Inspector General met with Sroufe in a parking lot on January 7, 2023, giving her 125 grams of meth and four cellphones, which she then delivered to the prison. Sroufe’s bond was set at $300,000.

Texas: A detainee was mistakenly released from the Jefferson County Correctional Facility (JCCF) on June 15, 2023, according to KBMT in Beaumont. Justin DeBourgeois, 25, had served about two years of a 13-year aggravated robbery sentence received in 2021, and he was supposed to be transferred to the state Department of Criminal Justice to finish his sentence after being temporarily detained at JCCF following an April 2023 arrest for possession of a controlled substance. In Jefferson County he was held until sentenced on June 14, 2023, to 180 days in jail; but with credit for time served, he was released the following day. Jefferson County deputies checked the Texas Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center and found no warrants or holds. Sheriff Zena Stephens blamed paperwork errors. Her office is now working with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office to find DeBourgeois and return him to custody.

United Kingdom:  A former prisoner was arrested on July 5, 2023, at the home of his lover – who was also his former prison warden. Stephanie Smithwhite, 42, and Curtis Warren, 60, met at HMP Frankland in England while Warren was serving a 13-year sentence for drug trafficking. He was the “UK’s Pablo Escobar,” and she was the warden. Smithwhite became obsessed with Warren. She got a tattoo of his name and read his autobiography, Cocky. She allegedly cut a hole in her pants so the two could enjoy intimate moments at the lockup. Investigators discovered they called each other 213 times in three months while Warren was imprisoned. During a search of Smithwhite’s home, love notes were discovered, as was a phone with only one number – which rang Warren’s contraband cellphone. In February 2020, Smithwhite admitted to two counts of misconduct in a public office and subsequently served two years in prison. Warren was arrested in breach of his Serious Crime Prevention Order after he was found living with Smithwhite at her home.

Virginia: According to WRIC in Richmond, a federal Bureau of Prisons lieutenant pleaded guilty on July 12, 2023, to violating a prisoner’s civil rights by showing deliberate indifference to his serious medical afflictions which resulted in his death. Michael Anderson, 52, was the ranking guard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg on January 9, 2021, when a subordinate guard reported a medical emergency was underway for a prisoner, “W.W.,” 47. Anderson checked him and said he would get help, but never did. The next morning, when Anderson was told that W.W. had fallen over, he still failed to get help. W.W. then lay on the floor of his cell without attention from staff for at least two hours before he died. At Anderson’s sentencing on November 28, 2023, he faces up to life in prison. Two other prison staffers were previously charged with neglecting W.W., as well.

Washington: Two Washington guards were recently arrested for separate incidents of alleged sexual abuse. On June 22, 2023, Spokane County Jail guard Drew S. Seiffert, 32, was charged with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct with a detainee, according to the Spokesman-Review. Though the detainee admitted the December 2022 encounter was consensual, it is a crime in the state for guards to have sex with prisoners and detainees under their control. The other arrest was that of Whatcom County Jail guard Austin Case, 23, who was fired and jailed on five counts, including rape, on July 12, 2023. KING in Seattle reported that his two alleged victims were not incarcerated; rather, they accused Case of abusing his position or his gun to threaten and extort sex from them. He is free on $250,000 bond to await trial.

Wisconsin: A pair of St. Croix County law enforcement officers fatally shot a state prison guard at his home on June 3, 2023, after a frantic call from his wife to report he was “out of control,” the Hudson Star-Observer reported. St. Croix County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chase Durand and New Richmond Police Officer Katie Chevrier were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation and internal review. The dead guard, Tyler Abel, 42, had worked at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater. When police arrived at his house, Abel reportedly came out waving his hunting rifle and threatening them. He was shot and killed shortly afterwards. Abel’s obituary described him as someone who “filled our world with endless energy, humor and love.” Minnesota DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell called Abel’s death “both tragic and troubling.”