Waukegan man among three inmate deaths at Menard prison

 
 
Updated 9/13/2018 3:57 PM
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  • Kevin Curtis, 31, of Waukegan, died last week at the downstate Menard Correctional Center. He'd been serving a 40-year sentence for the 2013 slaying of a Lake Villa man.

    Kevin Curtis, 31, of Waukegan, died last week at the downstate Menard Correctional Center. He'd been serving a 40-year sentence for the 2013 slaying of a Lake Villa man.

A Waukegan man convicted of a 2013 murder at a Lake County hotel was among three inmates who died on consecutive days last week at the Menard Correctional Center in downstate Chester, according to the Randolph County Coroner's office.

Kevin Curtis, 31, was found dead at the maximum-security prison on Sept. 5, Coroner Carlos J. Barbour said.

The next day, Sept. 6, the coroner's office was called to the prison to claim the body of Edwin Freeman, 45. On Sept. 7, Barbour said, coroner's staff returned to Menard after inmate Timothy Murray, 32, died on the prison grounds.

Barbour said autopsies have been performed on all three, but the causes of death are still unknown, pending toxicology results. Barbour said those could take up to eight weeks to become available.

He ruled out foul play, but did not say if the deaths were related.

Lindsey Hess, media administrator for the Illinois Department of Corrections, said the department is investigating the deaths, but had no further comment. The IDOC did not respond to questions about whether there could be a public health emergency at the prison.

An Illinois State Police spokesman said the agency sent a crime scene services team to Menard in the wake of the deaths, which is standard procedure when an inmate dies. State police are not involved in the ongoing investigation, the spokesman said.

Curtis was serving a 40-year sentence after being convicted in the fatal 2013 stabbing of friend Jacob Blum in a Waukegan hotel room. Curtis testified that he accidentally stabbed the 19-year-old Lake Villa man while play wrestling, but jurors found him guilty on three counts of first-degree murder.

The hometowns and backgrounds of Freeman and Murray were not available. All three men have been removed from the inmate locator on the Illinois Department of Corrections website.

Curtis' attorney, Kevin Malia, said Thursday he was "shocked and saddened" when he learned of his former client's death. He said he has not heard any additional information about his cause of death.

• Daily Herald Staff Writers Renee Trappe and Lee Filas contributed to this report

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