Officials investigate possible homicide at Rush City prison

Authorities are investigating the death of a 56-year-old man at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Rush City as a possible homicide.

According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, while officers were doing regular rounds at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night, they found James Francis Howard in his cell, suffering from injuries to his face and head. When staff entered the cell, they took Howard’s cellmate into custody, and initiated life-saving measures until paramedics arrived. Howard was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m.  

Howard was serving a sentence for homicide that began in 2012, with a release date of May 2034. The cellmate, age 29, was serving two sentences for assault that began in 2020 with a release date of May 2021.

The two men were cellmates within a temporary housing unit, which means they are not actively engaged in employment or programming. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, and the DOC’s Office of Special Investigations are investigating.