Death at JCCC investigated

Charges in a murder that occurred at the Jefferson City Correctional Center this week may come as early as today.

Authorities have said Jose Benitez, 67, who was serving a 25-year sentence for first-degree statutory sodomy from Jasper County, was pronounced dead just before 4 p.m., Tuesday.

He had been in the custody of corrections since March 2012.

The Cole County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene and the call was dispatched as a homicide.

Per state statute, the sheriff’s department is the office called when such crimes occur.

Upon arrival, investigators from the sheriff’s department, as well as investigators from the Missouri Department of Corrections, worked the scene collecting over 47 pieces of evidence.

At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Chief Deputy Capt. John Wheeler said the suspect and the victim were in a locked cell at the time.

“This was a physical assault or confrontation,” he said. “I can’t say if any weapon or weapons were involved. We took everything we could find in the cell into evidence.”

Wheeler said to his knowledge there was no video surveillance in the cell

An autopsy was performed to determine the exact cause of death, but Wheeler did not know how soon the results would be available.

The suspect in the crime, who Wheeler believed was serving a time for a murder conviction, is being held in another part of the prison at JCCC.

His name will not be released pending formal charges by the prosecutor’s office.

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