SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Nearly 15 hours after a riot at a Northern California prison, guards found a missing inmate sawed nearly in two, with his abdominal organs and most chest organs removed, his body folded and stuffed into a garbage can in a shower stall a few doors from his cell.
Details of the gruesome May killing at the medium-security California State Prison, Solano, are laid out in an autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press under a public records request.
The grisly discovery raises obvious questions about the prison’s security: How could such a gruesome killing happen inside a locked facility with security and surveillance? How could someone obtain weapons sharp enough to dissect a body? And why did it take so long to uncover?
Homicides are distressingly common in California prisons. More than 160 inmates have been killed in the last 15 years, and the state has one of the nation’s highest inmate homicide rates. Yet the death of 24-year-old Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez stands out.
Rodriguez’s missing organs are “still part of the investigation” at the prison in Vacaville, 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Friday.
No one has been charged with killing Rodriguez, an Oakland man who was serving an eight-year robbery sentence from Alameda County. However, Thornton said his cellmate, a 46-year-old man serving a life sentence for a Los Angeles County murder, is considered the only suspect and is being held in segregation. Thornton said she couldn’t say how the homicide was carried out or concealed since it’s still being investigated.
“It just blows my mind, because officers are looking in on inmates all the time,” said Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. “Unfortunately, we know that there are drugs, there’s alcohol, there are weapons. As much as the officers can police that, we know we’ve got the toughest, the baddest, the most violent criminals in our state prison and unfortunately some of the most cunning prisoners in there as well. They are going to find ways to do that.”
Rodriguez’s body was discovered around 9:30 p.m. May 4, 14
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