August 29, 2014

Inmate murder at Jefferson City Correctional Center under investigation

The second murder in the history of Missouri’s newest maximum security prison is under investigation.

Inmate Jose Benitez was found dead after an apparent assault Tuesday while locked in his cell with his cellmate, at Jefferson City Correctional Center. (Photo courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Inmate Jose Benitez was found dead after an apparent assault Tuesday while locked in his cell with his cellmate, at Jefferson City Correctional Center. (Photo courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Inmate Jose Benitez was found murdered just before 4:00 Tuesday night at Jefferson City Correctional Center, east of Jefferson City. The former resident of the State of California was sentenced last year to 25-years sentence for first-degree statutory sodomy for molesting his 5-year-old step-great-granddaughter in Jasper County in 2010.

Benitez died after an assault by his cellmate while the two were locked in their cell together, but the Cole County Sheriff’s Department’s Chief Deputy John Wheeler can’t say much more.

“It was a physical assault … right now I don’t have any comment on the weapons because they’re still trying to ascertain if there was, or how many weapons may have been utilized.”

47 pieces of evidence were recovered from the cell where the assault occurred and those are still being processed, including to see if any of those were used as a weapon. The cause of Martinez’s death will be determined by an autopsy, which was conducted Wednesday afternoon.

The identity of his cellmate is being withheld pending the formal filing of charges by the County Prosecutor. He remains in custody at the prison.

The Correctional Center opened in September, 2004 to take the place of the 168-year-old Missouri State Penitentiary. Three months later the first murder took place. 34-year-old Jack Webb was stabbed while prisoners were making their way to the evening meal and died later that afternoon. A handmade weapon was used in that crime.