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2 inmates charged with murder in death of 4 inmates at SC prison

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Columbia, S.C. (WACH)-- Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division charged two inmates at the Kirkland Correctional Institution with the murders of four fellow inmates late Friday night.

Denver Jordan Simmons,35, and Jacob Theophilus Philip,25 were each charged with four counts of murder. Both men face a felony charge which carries a penalty upon conviction for each count of death or a minimum of 30 years in prison.

According to authorities at approximately 10:35 a.m. Friday four inmates were found deceased in a housing unit at Kirkland Correctional Institution.

The Richland County Coroner's Office along with SLED investigated the case and determined that four inmates had died of strangulation.

The Department of Corrections released the names of the four individuals as John King, Jason Kelley, Jimmy Ham, and William Scruggs.


According to the arrest warrant Simmons and Phillip confessed to attacking Scruggs and King in separate jail cells at separate times. Simmons admitted that he and Philip both lured Scruggs and King into a jail cell where Phillip attacked the two from behind before both men strangled them to death.

The two men also confessed to being involved in the death of Jimmy Ham and John King. The two confessed that they also lured Ham and King into different jail cells at different times where Philip beat both men with a broom handle before Simmons attacked both men from behind and strangled them to death.

Parts of these incidents were caught on video surveillance.

Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling released a statement after the investigation thanking SLED for their involvement, "I want to thank SLED for their rapid response, resources, and for leading the investigation."

Simmons was serving a life sentence on murder charged that stemmed from 2007.

Philip was also serving a life sentence on murder charged that stemmed from a 2013 incident.

Ham was a 56-year-old black male who was sentenced to 36 years in prison on charges of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, grand larceny and two second-degree burglary charges.

Kelley a 35-year-old white male was sentenced to 15 years on charges of assault and battery or a high and aggravated nature from 2015.

King, a 52-year-old white male was sentenced to 75 years in prison in 1998. King faced several charges including burglary, breaking into a motor vehicle, unauthorized vehicle use, larceny and vehicle theft.

Scruggs was serving a life sentence for murder and kidnapping charges from 2009.


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