MS Dept. of Corrections reports two murders in two-week span at Parchman

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 10:13 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Officials with the Mississippi Department of Corrections say there were two homicides in a two-week span at one of the state’s prisons.

On September 26th, Fate Santee Jr. killed Richard Weems. Then, on October 10th, Michael Powell killed Markeith Williams.

Both murders happened inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. It’s the very same prison that was under fire just months ago after federal investigators said conditions were in violation of the constitution.

It’s also where a woman we’re calling “Marie” finds her cousin.

“It really hurts because you don’t know from day to day if he’s going to be here or not,” she said.

Marie wanted to stay anonymous over fears of retaliation against her loved one.

She said she worries about him each and every day - not only because of the violence but also the conditions he’s forced to live in.

“The roof leaks when it rains, there’s no electricity in some of the areas that they’re in, and the meals that come in - when they do get them - are either raw chicken or they look like something a pig wouldn’t eat,” she said.

Marie’s cousin has even reported rodents walking around inside the cells.

We asked MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain about these claims.

“There are no rats running around in our prison I don’t believe, and we have exterminating companies on board,” Cain said. “We look forward to when [the media] tours the prison. It’s clean, it looks good, and it’s actually pretty peaceful.”

Cain said MDOC spent almost eighty million dollars in ARPA funds to improve conditions within its prisons, including Parchman.

The commissioner blamed the recent homicides on gang violence, and he said the men involved were moved to Walnut Grove, which is part of a continued strategy to split up inmates involved with gangs.

Even still, the commissioner said killings in prison are inevitable.

“It did happen, and it will happen again. We’ve got it suppressed considerably, but it’s prison. We have 19,000 or so people now, so there you have it.”

An MDOC official said the state crime lab has not completed its reports on either of the two inmates killed, meaning their cause of death has yet to be determined.

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