SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — The investigation continues after state police said an inmate at the South Central Regional Jail beat his cellmate to death.
State troopers said this wasn't the first time the two had fought, leaving many to wonder if it could have been prevented.
"Our policy is - we work every case the same, whether it's in the jail or out here on the streets," said senior trooper Tiffani Huffman of West Virginia State Police.
Authorities said Jeffrey Craig, 51, was found beaten to death inside his cell Monday.
"From what I hear, the victim was very quiet and kept to himself in jail," Huffman said.
The suspect, Craig's cellmate Nathan Smith, was arraigned late Monday night on a charge of first-degree murder.
"In his interview, he stated that the victim 'had weird eyes.' He was nervous around the victim and thought he was going to be sexually assaulted by the victim," Huffman said.
But investigators said it wasn't the first time the two had been at odds. In fact, they had fought just days before on Friday, August 31. Eyewitness News reached out to the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which would not comment if there is a protocol in place that would have kept the two from sharing a cell after the first fight.
Investigators are still waiting on official autopsy results but believe the murder happened sometime between midnight and 3 a.m. Troopers said Craig's body wasn't discovered until 9 a.m.
"We talked to a few inmates, and nobody said they'd heard anything during that time. Those are cinder block walls, so with it being the way it was, it'd be hard to hear what was going on," Huffman said.
State officials said that staffing at the jail has improved in recent months, with 10 vacancies out of more than 90 positions. Communications director Lawrence Messina said newly-implemented multi-year pay raises will continue to improve the situation even further.
"These people are in jail, but it's still a human life, and they do have family," Huffman said.
Huffman said a third person was inside the cell with Craig and Smith but was asleep and had no involvement whatsoever.