List of prison deaths

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This is a list of notable people who have died in prison, whether in prison or in hospital while still serving a prison sentence. This list does not include inmates who were executed as punishment for their crimes. Most of them died from suicide.

Name Date of death Nationality Cause of death Known for Comments
John McAfee 2021-06-23  United Kingdom “Everything points to death by suicide.”[1] Founded the software company McAfee Associates in 1987.
Mohamed Morsi 2019-06-17  Egypt Egyptian state television announced on 17 June 2019 that Mohamed Morsi had collapsed during a court hearing on espionage charges at Cairo's Tora prison complex, and later died suddenly, reportedly of a heart attack.[2][3][4][5] Former President of Egypt
Bernie Madoff 2021-04-14  United States Chronic Kidney Disease[6][7][8][9] Fraudster
Vercingetorix during 46 BC Gaul

(detained by the  Roman Republic)

Strangulation Gaulish leader defeated by Julius Caesar
Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel 1595-10-19  Kingdom of England Dysentery Imprisoned in the Tower of London as a Roman Catholic recusant by Elizabeth I of England. Acclaimed a martyr almost immediately and canonised in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Wolfe Tone 1798-11-19  Ireland

(detained by  Great Britain)

Suicide Leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion against Great Britain Sentenced to death by hanging; committed suicide because he wanted to die by firing squad (a soldier's death, rather than a criminal's) instead.
Toussaint Louverture 1804-04-07  Haiti

(detained by  France)

Natural causes Leader of the Haitian Revolution who was imprisoned for launching a rebellion against France
Anthony Van Egmond 1838-01-05  Netherlands

 Upper Canada

Pneumonia, malnutrition and exposure Dutch war veteran and an early settler in the Huron Tract
Gavrilo Princip 1918-04-28  Austria-Hungary Malnutrition and skeletal tuberculosis Yugoslav terrorist Assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, beginning World War I
Richard Loeb 1936-01-28  United States Murdered by fellow inmate[10] American murderer
Nikolai Vavilov 1943-01-26  Soviet Union Malnutrition Russian botanist and geneticist who was imprisoned for his struggle against pseudoscience
Kasturba Gandhi 1944-02-22  India Natural causes Indian political activist and the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Imprisoned in a detention camp in Pune for protesting and participating in the Quit India movement.
Viktors Eglītis 1945-04-20  Latvia Unknown Leading figure in the Latvian decadent movement and an introducer of modernist poetics During the Soviet era, accused of being a fascist collaborator.[11]
Emil Hácha 1945-06-27  Czechoslovakia Unknown 3rd President of Czechoslovakia, later of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia
Robert Ley 1945-10-25 Germany Suicide by hanging Nazi war criminal
Hermann Göring 1946-10-15  Germany

(detained by the Allied Powers)

Suicide by poison Nazi war criminal
Josef Bachmann 1970-02-24  West Germany Suicide Attempt to assassinate APO student leader Rudi Dutschke
Yuri Galanskov 1972-11-04  Soviet Union Death from an operation by a former doctor (another inmate) with no surgical qualifications Russian poet, historian, and human rights activist, imprisoned for his writings
Albert DeSalvo 1973-11-25  United States Murdered The Boston Strangler
Steve Biko 1977-09-12  South Africa Bludgeoned to death by South African police[12] South African anti-apartheid activist Forty-sixth political detainee to die during interrogation since the government introduced laws permitting imprisonment without trial in 1963.
Andreas Baader 1977-10-18  West Germany Suicide Member of the Red Army Faction
Gudrun Ensslin 1977-10-18  West Germany Suicide Member of the Red Army Faction
Richard Chase 1980-12-26  United States Suicide American serial killer
Roy Buchanan 1988-08-14  United States Suicide by hanging American guitarist His death is still the subject of fierce debate.
Klaus Barbie 1991-09-25  Germany

(detained by  France)

Leukemia Nazi war criminal
Walter Breen 1993-04-27  United States Cancer American child molester
Garry David 1993-07-11  Australia Died from wounds caused by self-mutilation Robbery and attempted murder
Jeffrey Dahmer 1994-11-28  United States Beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver[13] American serial killer and cannibal
Jesse Anderson 1994-11-30  United States Beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver American murderer
Byron De La Beckwith 2001-01-21  United States Heart attack[14] American white supremacist Klansman from Greenwood, Mississippi who assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963.
Abu Abbas 2004-03-08  Palestine

(detained by the  United States in  Iraq)

Natural causes Terrorist Captured by American forces on 14 April 2003, the Pentagon reported Abbas died on 8 March 2004. US returned body to Palestine Red Crescent Society.
Clayton Fountain 2004-07-12  United States Heart attack Member of the Aryan Brotherhood
Samuel Bowers 2006-11-05  United States Cardio-pulmonary arrest American white supremacist Co-founded the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and convicted of bombing death of civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer.
Antonie Dixon 2009-02-04  New Zealand Suicide New Zealand thief and murderer
Susan Atkins 2009-09-24  United States Brain tumor Member of the Manson family
Edarem 2012-01-08  United States Lung cancer American Internet personality
Heinrich Boere 2013-12-01  Germany Natural causes Nazi war criminal
Sandra Bland 2015-07-13  United States Alleged suicide American motorist Arrested for traffic violation on July 10 by State Trooper Brian Encinia. Encinia was indicted for perjury for making false statements about the circumstances of Bland's arrest. Waller County jail failed to follow required policies and procedures.
Omar Abdel-Rahman 2017-02-18  Egypt

(detained by the  United States)

Coronary arterial disease Terrorist
Whitey Bulger 2018-10-30  United States Killed by prison inmates American mobster
Jeffrey Epstein 2019-08-10  United States Alleged suicide American financier and convicted sex offender
Ian Brady 2017  United Kingdom Cancer British serial killer
Ariel Castro 2013  United States Suicide Kidnapped and raped three American women for over a decade.
John Evander Couey 2009  United States Cancer Sex offender convicted of murdering Jessica Lunsford
Sigurd Debus 1981  West Germany Hungerstrike Alleged member of the Red Army Faction
John Geoghan 2003  United States Murdered by fellow inmate Joseph Druce Catholic priest and child molester
Vincent Gigante 2005  United States Oxygen deprivation American Mafia boss Boss of Genovese crime family
John Wayne Glover 2005  Australia Suicide by hanging[15] Sydney Granny Murderer
John Gotti 2002  United States Throat cancer American Mafia boss
Ryan Gracie 2007  Brazil Died as a result of brain injury Brazilian mixed martial artist
Katharina Hammerschmidt 1975  West Germany Untreated cancer Member of the Red Army Faction
Charles Harrelson 2007  United States Heart attack Hitman, convicted of murdering U.S. Federal judge John H. Wood Jr. Father of actor Woody Harrelson.
Donald Harvey 2017  United States Killed by fellow inmate Serial killer
Colin Hatch 2011  United Kingdom Suspected homicide Notorious murderer and child molester
Siegfried Hausner 1975  West Germany Severe burns untreated in custody Member of the Red Army Faction
Aaron Hernandez 2017  United States Suicide Former tight-end for NFL team New England Patriots, later convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd Found not guilty of the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado just 5 days before he was found dead.
Rudolf Hess 1987  Germany (held by the Four-Power Authorities) Suicide Nazi war criminal Was the sole inmate in Spandau Prison from 1966 until his death. The prison was demolished afterwards
Myra Hindley 2002  United Kingdom Died in hospital after heart attack in prison British serial killer
Richard Huckle 2019  United Kingdom Stabbed to death British serial sex offender and paedophile
Colin Ireland 2012  United Kingdom Died as a result of hip injury.[16] British serial killer of gay men
Ilse Koch 1967  West Germany Suicide by hanging Wife of the Commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp
Ronald Kray 1995  United Kingdom Heart attack British gangster and murderer, twin brother of Reginald Kray
David Lane 2007  United States Epilepsy American white nationalist
Brian Lawler 2018  United States Suicide by hanging[17] Professional wrestler
Ervil LeBaron 1981  United States Natural causes American Mormon fundamentalist
Liu Shaoqi 1969  China Pneumonia / unknown illness Former Chairman of the People's Republic of China Died of mistreatment as a result of political persecution during the Cultural Revolution
Liu Xiaobo 2017  China Liver cancer Prisoner of conscience Nobel Peace Prize laureate (2010)
Sergei Magnitsky 2009  Russia Closed cerebral cranial injury Russian tax accountant who specialized in anti-corruption activities Magnitsky alleged there had been large-scale theft from the Russian state, sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials. He was arrested and eventually died in prison.
Charles Manson 2017  United States Natural causes Leader of the Manson Family
Philip Markoff 2010  United States Suicide American murderer Known as the "Craigslist killer"
Andrew Martinez 2006  United States Suicide Nude activist
Ulrike Meinhof 1976  West Germany Suicide Member of the Red Army Faction
Holger Meins 1974  West Germany Hunger strike Member of the Red Army Faction
Ivan Milat 2019  Australia Natural causes Murder
Slobodan Milošević 2006  Serbia Heart attack Serbian and Yugoslav president
Tjostolv Moland 2013  Norway (detained by the  Democratic Republic of the Congo) Suicide Sentenced to death for murder, and espionage for Norway Died in Congolese custody[18]
Joe "Pegleg" Morgan 1993  Mexico (detained by the  United States) Liver cancer Mexican Mafia leader
Dennis Nilsen 2018  United Kingdom Pulmonary embolism British serial killer
Lou Pearlman 2016  United States Cardiac arrest Manager of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC
Carmine Persico 2019  United States Natural causes Boss of the Colombo crime family
Lawrence Phillips 2016  United States Suicide American football player
Richard Ramirez 2013  United States Cancer American serial killer
Jan-Carl Raspe 1977  West Germany Suicide Member of the Red Army Faction
James Earl Ray 1998  United States Hepatitis C Convicted for assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sarah Reed 2016  United Kingdom Suicide/accidental death On remand awaiting possible trial pending psychiatric reports Charged with GBH with intent
Jack Ruby 1967  United States Pulmonary embolism American nightclub owner

Murdered Lee Harvey Oswald

Bobby Sands 1981  United Kingdom Hunger strike Irish republican Died along with 9 other Republicans on hunger strike. See 1981 Irish Hunger Strike
Gerard John Schaefer 1995  United States Stabbed to death American murderer
Ingrid Schubert 1977  West Germany Suicide Member of the Red Army Faction
Arthur Shawcross 2008  United States Cardiac arrest Serial killer
Harold Shipman 2004  United Kingdom Suicide by hanging British doctor who killed many of his patients
Richard Speck 1991  United States Heart attack American mass murderer
John Straffen 2007  United Kingdom Natural causes British serial killer Longest-serving prisoner in British legal history, was in prison for 55 years until his death
Robert Stroud 1963  United States Natural causes The Birdman of Alcatraz
John Anthony Walker 2014  United States Unknown United States Navy Chief Warrant Officer convicted of spying for the Soviet Union from 1968 to 1985
Raoul Wallenberg 1947 or later  Sweden

(believed to have been detained by the  Soviet Union)

Unknown (debated) Extrajudicial punishment in Soviet Lefortovo prison Diplomat, rescued Jews during the Holocaust
Fred West 1995  United Kingdom Suicide by hanging[19] Multiple murders; was on remand awaiting trial
Carl Williams 2010  Australia Bludgeoned to death Australian crime boss Murdered by fellow inmate while serving sentence
Yip Kai Foon 2017  Hong Kong Lung cancer[20] Hong Kong armed robber with AK-47
Graham Young 1990  United Kingdom Heart attack Poisoner Died in Parkhurst prison. Heart attack is the official cause of death, but there has been speculation that other prisoners may have been responsible.[citation needed]
Romell Broom 2020  United States COVID-19 Murder of Tryna Middleton.[21]
Terry Peder Rasmussen 2010  United States lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia Serial killer with six known victims.[22] on December 28, 2010.[23][24]
Jack Unterweger 1994  Austria suicide Serial killer with estimated 12-15 victims[25][26][27]


  1. ^ "John McAfee: antivirus entrepreneur found dead in Spanish prison". the Guardian. 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  2. ^ "Mursi's death in Cairo prison raises fears for other inmates". Reuters. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsi dies in court". BBC News. 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi dies: state media". Al Jazeera. 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Former Egyptian president Morsi dies during court hearing". The Jerusalem Post. 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  6. ^ "AP source: Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff dies in prison". Associated Press. April 14, 2021. Archived from the original on April 14, 2021.
  7. ^ Steinberg, Marty; Cohn, Scott (April 14, 2021). "Bernie Madoff, mastermind of the nation's biggest investment fraud, dies at 82". CNBC.
  8. ^ "Disgraced financier, Ponzi scheme architect Bernie Madoff dies in prison". Jerusalem Post. Reuters. April 14, 2021.
  9. ^ Rothfeld, Michael; Baer, Justin (April 14, 2021). "Bernie Madoff Dead at 82; Disgraced Investor Ran Biggest Ponzi Scheme in History". The Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ Linder, Douglas O. (1997). "The Leopold and Loeb Trial: A Brief Account". University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  11. ^ Purs, Aldis; Plakans, Andrejs (2017). Historical Dictionary of Latvia (Third ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 102. ISBN 9781538102213. LCCN 2016056922.
  12. ^ Pillay, Verashni (2007-09-12). "Keeping Steve Biko alive". News24. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  13. ^ Price, Lisa (May 8, 1996). "Serial killer's property set to go on the auction block". CNN. Archived from the original on March 15, 2008.
  14. ^ Stout, David (2001-01-23). "Byron De La Beckwith Dies; Killer of Medgar Evers Was 80". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  15. ^ "Granny killer found dead in cell". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 10 September 2005. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020.
  16. ^ Gray, Stephen (29 February 2012). "Exercise yard fall contributed to death of 'Gay Slayer', inquest hears". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 10 June 2013.
  17. ^ Meltzer, Dave (July 29, 2018). "Brian Christopher pronounced brain dead after suicide attempt". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Archived from the original on July 8, 2019. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  18. ^ Rydland, Julie (29 August 2013). "Congo: Prisoner took his own life". The Norway Post. Aftenposten. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  19. ^ Morris, Steven (2007-09-20). "Serial Murder and the Psychology of a Sexual Sadist: Frederick West". New Criminologist. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  20. ^ "'King of Robbery' Yip Kai-foon dies of cancer". RTHK. 19 April 2017. Archived from the original on 18 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Inmate who survived execution attempt dies; COVID suspected". AP. December 29, 2020. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  22. ^ Downey, KC (June 6, 2019). "Case timeline: Killer Terry Peder Rasmussen, also known as "Bob Evans"". WMUR-TV. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  23. ^ "AG: Man who killed woman, 3 children in Allenstown also killed missing Manchester woman". WFXT. January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  24. ^ "Timeline of serial killer Terry Rasmussen's terror in New Hampshire, California". WBAL. March 18, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  25. ^ Atkinson, Rick (3 August 1994). "Killer Prose". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  26. ^ Czech language article about the victim from Prague
  27. ^ Malnic, Eric (June 30, 1994). "Austrian Slayer of L.A. Prostitutes Kills Self". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035.

See also[edit]