LAKE CITY, Fla. – A Florida prison inmate murdered his cellmate Thursday by strangling him, pulling out his eyes, and strolling into the prison chow hall wearing the guy’s ear around his neck—a killing that highlights bigger problems at Columbia Correctional Institution, the Miami Herald reports.
Officials have identified the victim as Larry Mark, a 58-year-old serving life for murder, but the killer’s name hasn’t been released while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates.
Two prison sources tell the Herald that Mark angered his cellmate by pestering him; after the killing, the cellmate dropped Mark’s eyes in a cup and told fellow prisoners he was planning to drink or eat them later on.
The dorm where Mark died was manned by just one control-room officer and a sergeant who was busy elsewhere in the compound—just one example of staff shortages that have left the facility rattled.
The problem worsened hours later when a gang knife-fight erupted over smuggled contraband elsewhere in the prison and left four hospitalized, per the Gainesville Sun.
According to an officer at the Lake City facility, staff shortages contribute to contraband deliveries (sometimes by drone) and the proliferation of K2, a powerful synthetic marijuana often used by prisoners.
And Columbia Correctional isn’t alone: Gangs control many of Florida’s 50 prisons, says a former prison inspector, while records show that inmate deaths in the state’s system are more frequent than ever.
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