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Convicted murderer dies at Rush City prison in possible homicide

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is among the authorities investigating.
James Francis Howard

James Francis Howard

A man serving a prison term for murder has been found dead at Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF) Rush City in what authorities are investigating as a possible homicide.

James Francis Howard, 56, was pronounced dead in the early hours of Monday after being found in his cell Sunday night with face and head injuries.

When corrections officers went into his cell, they took his 29-year-old cellmate into custody.

The two men were being held in a "temporary housing unit," with the Minnesota Department of Corrections means they were not "actively engaged in employment or programming."

Howard started his sentence in September 2012 for the murder of his 68-year-old mother, Barbara Howard, in Dalton, Minnesota, whom he attacked with an 18-inch machete in April 2011 when he was 46.

Howard was due for release in May 2034 after taking a plea deal that saw him plead guilty to second-degree murder.

His cellmate was serving two sentences for assault that started in May last year, and was due for release less than two months from now on May 17.

The DOC says it's the first death of an incarcerated person in Minnesota following an altercation with another inmate since 2013 at MCF-Oak Park Heights.

MCF-Rush City is a high-security facility that holds up to 1,000 male prisoners.

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