An inmate killed a female correction officer found dead inside an Abilene, Texas, all-male prison early Saturday, state authorities said. The victim was identified by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as Mari Johnson, 55, a nine-year veteran of the state prison agency. She was discovered unresponsive in the kitchen area at around 5 a.m. in the Robertson Unit and taken to a nearby hospital. She could not be saved. Officer Johnson was found unresponsive near the kitchen area of the prison early Saturday and later pronounced dead, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Officer Mari Johnson was discovered unresponsive in the kitchen area at around 5 a.m. in the Robertson Unit, later died
“Life saving measures were immediately initiated and 55 year old Correctional Officer Mari Johnson was transported to Hendricks Medical Center in Abilene where she was pronounced deceased.” According to spokesman Jason Clark investigators with the inspector general’s office for the agency were processing the scene on Saturday, and “investigating the incident as a homicide.”
“This is a tragic reminder that carrying out that mission can lead to the ultimate sacrifice,” said TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston in a statement. “Ms. Johnson made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this state safe. She will never be forgotten. We will see that the offender who committed this cowardly act is held accountable.”
Authorities did not immediately describe how Johnson died or identify a suspect in her death.
Gov. Greg Abbott describe the killing as an “unfathomably tragic event.”
“The State of Texas mourns for Mari Johnson, a correctional officer who was senselessly murdered last night,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “Texas will ensure the perpetrator receives swift justice and TDCJ has been instructed to take all necessary measures to enhance the safety of their staff to prevent such tragedies.”
Johnson is the second on-duty death of a correction officer in Texas during the 12 months at the Robertson Unit, west of Fort Worth with a population of nearly 3,000 inmates, most of whom are serving sentences related to aggravated robbery, burglary and sexual assault of a minor.
Billy Joel Tracy, an inmate already serving a life sentence for murder, killed rookie guard Timothy Davison, while he was escorting the prisoner back to his cell at the Telford Unit. after broking one hand free from his restrains. He grabbed a metal rod used to unlock meal tray doors bludgeoned Davison to death.