Crime & Courts

Death of inmate discovered in cell at Columbia prison called suspicious, coroner says

Isaac Starke, an inmate at Broad River Correctional Institution, was found dead Sunday.
Isaac Starke, an inmate at Broad River Correctional Institution, was found dead Sunday. South Carolina Department of Corrections

An investigation is underway after an inmate was found dead at a South Carolina prison in Columbia on Sunday, according to officials.

Isaac Starke “was found unresponsive in his cell,” according to a news release from the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC), which confirmed the inmate’s death.

The death is considered suspicious, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts told The State, saying Starke did not die from natural causes.

Starke was an inmate at Broad River Correctional Institution, the SCDOC reported in the news release. He was 52 years old, according to an SCDOC inmate report.

The investigation into his death is being led by SCDOC police services and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents, according to the news release.

There is no word on Starke’s cause of death, or if there will be any criminal charges filed.

Watts said an autopsy is scheduled for Monday morning.

In 2012, Starke was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and third-degree criminal sexual conduct in an Aiken courtroom, according to the SCDOC inmate report. He was not eligible for parole, and his projected release date was in January 2026.

While incarcerated, Starke had been in trouble three times — including once for striking an employee in 2015, it showed in the inmate report. He also was disciplined for disorderly conduct and soliciting an employee to violate an SCDOC rule.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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