Nearly 15 hours after a riot at a Northern California prison, guards found a missing inmate sawed nearly in two, with his abdominal organs and most chest organs removed, his body folded and stuffed into a garbage can in a shower stall a few doors from his cell. Details of the gruesome May killing at the medium-security California State Prison, Solano, are laid out in an autopsy report obtained by the AP. Homicides are distressingly common in California prisons—160 in the last 15 years—yet the death of 24-year-old Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez stands out. His missing organs are "still part of the investigation" at the prison in Vacaville, 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, says a state prisons spokeswoman. No one has been charged with killing Rodriguez, an Oakland man who was serving an eight-year robbery sentence from Alameda County.
His cellmate, a 46-year-old man serving a life sentence for a Los Angeles County murder, is considered the only suspect and is being held in segregation. Rodriguez's body was discovered around 9:30pm May 4, 14½ hours after inmates were ordered locked in their cells following a brawl between 58 inmates in his housing unit. Three prisoners and one correctional officer were injured in the fight. Rodriguez was not discovered missing until a head count at 4:30pm, and investigators are looking into whether the riot was created to conceal the slaying or allow someone to move the body. The grisly discovery raises obvious questions about the prison's security: How could such a gruesome killing happen inside a locked facility with security and surveillance? How could someone obtain weapons sharp enough to dissect a body? And why did it take so long to uncover? (Read more prison stories.)