Reprinted from the Vallejo Times-Herald
Ten additional inmates were placed in isolation following a preliminary investigation of the events that led to the death Sunday, August 17, 1980, of a California Medical Facility inmate and guard.
Authorities also suspect that more inmates were involved with the fight that preceded the deaths of inmate Charles Gardner, 31, of Alameda County and guard Al Patch, 44, of Vacaville.
“It’s beginning to look like perhaps two others were involved, but we don’t have anything solid,” CMF spokesman Jim Kane said Monday.
According to Kane, the violence began after breakfast Sunday when Gardner and inmate Archie Menefield, 29, of Sacramento allegedly got into a fight using prison-made knives. While chasing Menefield, Gardner stabbed Patch. Both Gardner and Patch died in the prison’s hospital from wounds to the heart.
Menefield was placed in isolation immediately after the fracas. The other 10 men, who were not identified, have been added since the initial investigation was made Sunday.
Placing the inmates in isolation is an investigation tool, said CMF spokeswoman Teda Boyll.
“This way the inmates won’t be able to discuss their stories with other inmates,” she said.
The investigation is being conducted by the state Attorney General’s office. Tony Cimarusti, press secretary for the attorney general, said it is unknown how long the investigation will last or even if charges will be made.
“Historically, prison inmates don’t testify. It’s pretty hard to develop evidence when they won’t testify,” Cimarusti said.
Despite the difficulty, the investigation will continue. “We’re trying to – believe it or not – determine if we have a case,” Kane said.
“If this were outside, witnesses would have legal protection. But we’re dealing with inmates who are afraid to be labeled ‘snitch’ and can be easily impugned if they take the witness stand.”
A total lockdown at the prison, enacted immediately following the incident, will continue at least until Wednesday, Boyll said.