Police: Convicted murderer killed in prison cell

Police: Convicted murderer killed in prison cell
Joseph Akins

SALEM, Ore. --  A convicted murderer was found dead in his cell at the Oregon State Penitentiary Saturday morning. Officials believe he was killed by a fellow inmate.

The Department of Corrections says jail workers found 45-year-old Joseph Akins dead inside his C-block cell at around 10 a.m. Saturday. 

The penitentiary was immediately put on a modified lockdown while investigators from the state police, Marion County Sheriff's Office and medical examiner's office searched the scene and conducted witness interviews.

Sunday afternoon the State Police said the State Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Akins died from "inflicted trauma".

Police are holding an inmate as a suspect for the murder. The suspect has been separated from the other inmates and is being held at the penitentiary while the investigation continues.

As of Sunday afternoon no charges have been filed.

Akins was convicted on a murder count out of Multnomah County and entered Department of Corrections custody at the beginning of 2008. His earliest release date would have been in 2022.

According to an Oregonian story about his original crime, Akins was convicted of murdering a Milwaukie woman in 1994, although he wasn't convicted until 14 years later.

The newspaper reported that Akins and his brother-in-law were drunk in the parking lot of a Shari's restaurant when they kidnapped, raped then murdered the woman. Her body was found not far from Multnomah Falls. 

The State Police Criminal Investigation Division is looking into the matter in cooperation with local prosecutors, which is common practice when the state encounters the unanticipated death of an inmate.