Authorities: 4 inmates found dead at maximum-security prison

Guards found the four men at 10:35 a dorm at Kirkland Correctional Institution, a state maximum security site outside Columbia that holds approximately 15,000 offenders, said Sommer Sharpe.

Four inmates have been found dead inside a housing unit at one of the state's prisons.

"I have asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to lead this investigation", said Sterling.

According to an affidavit, Simmons confessed that he and Philip murdered the inmates. The exact causes of their deaths has not yet been released, but authorities have stated they do not seem to have died from "natural causes", according to Coroner Gary Watts. The warrants say there is video.

Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling did not say how they died. An investigation by the paper found that under-staffing at the state's prisons has led to risky conditions that affects not only the inmates and guards but also the public. Scruggs was serving a life sentence in prison while the other three inmates were all due to be released within the next three years. The Kirkland prison serves several roles in South Carolina's system.

Kirkland has a specialized housing unit where the most risky and violent offenders within the state Department of Corrections are housed.

Read the latest on Donald Trump's first 100 days in office.

Autopsies on the inmates will be conducted Saturday. The prison processes almost 15,000 offenders each year.

Records did not show if the inmates had lawyers. Friday afternoon, corrections officials identified the men as John King, 52, Jason Kelley, 35, William Scruggs, 44 and Jimmy Ham, 56.

King was serving time for a variety of crimes and had a projected release date of October 2020.

  • Annette Adams