Prison Murder Response

By: 11 News
By: 11 News

A prison murder has raised questions about staffing at one Colorado prison. Eric Autobee was killed Oct. 18 in the kitchen of the Limon Correctional Facility. Investigators say inmate Edward Montour attacked him because he wanted to be transferred.

On Tuesday the Colorado Department of Corrections responded to allegations that understaffing led to Autobee's death. They admit Limon isn't fully staffed right now. But they say the day of the attack there were 6 staff members in the prison kitchen supervising 40 inmates, which is normal for that situation.

Joe Ortiz is the executive director of the DOC. "The Limon facility has gone through some traumatic times out there, some of which we have control and others which we do not." Ortiz also says understaffing did not play a role in Autobee's death.

"This was a case of opportunity. He had no incidents reported while he had been with the Department of Corrections."

Some staff at the prison contacted 11 News to say they're worried about safety, but they wouldn't talk on camera for fear of losing their jobs.

Ortiz addressed those concerns. "My message to the staff has always been from day one that they recognize the inherent risk that is ever present in our profession."

The Limon Correctional Facility houses about 1000 prisoners. The DOC says optimum staffing is 275.

They are budgeted for only 254 staff members.

And because it's hard to find workers in rural areas, only 248 people currently work at the prison.

"But that's not to say that the facility is not secure because it is secure," says Ortiz. He also says prisons are seeing more violent inmates all the time and that is simply a reflection of society.


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