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Former Wisconsin Prison Warden, Staff Charged In Inmate Deaths

The former warden and eight other workers at a long-troubled maximum-security prison in Wisconsin were charged Wednesday in connection with the deaths of two inmates at the facility, one of which was ruled a homicide. All nine were arrested, with eight facing charges of felony inmate abuse. Randall Hepp, the former warden of Waupun Correctional Institution, 70 miles northwest of Milwaukee, was charged with misconduct in public office, USA Today reports. Hepp retired last week amid intense scrutiny over in-custody deaths that occurred between June 2023 and February 2024, and a federal investigation into a suspected smuggling conspiracy. The arrests came the same day Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt and other officials released new details into the death investigations of Dean Hoffmann, y60; Tyshun Lemons, 30, Cameron Williams, 24, and Donald Maier, 62.

Schmidt criticized the state's correctional system, describing how Williams and Maier were dead for hours before staff retrieved them from their cells, and that Maier had his water shut off in his cell periodically and missed meals. In other cases, correctional staff did not properly document cell checks. Maier died from dehydration and failure to thrive due to malnutrition, according to medical examiner's reports. His manner of death was ruled a homicide. This was the first time Maier's cause and manner of death had been released. Before Wednesday, little had been known about the circumstances of Maier's death. The Dodge County Medical Examiner, PJ Schoebel, previously found Hoffmann died by suicide, Lemons died from an accidental fentanyl overdose and Williams died of a stroke. "These investigations have shown a blatant disregard for the safety of human beings and arrests must be made and have been made," Schmidt said. "There must be accountability for the actions and inactions of state employees. As the sheriff, I am angered at how these men were treated, and how they died."


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