2 California death row inmates found dead; suicide suspected

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Two condemned multiple murderers, including a serial killer, apparently committed suicide within hours of each other on the nation's largest death row, California officials said Monday.

Corrections officials said they found Andrew Urdiales, 54, unresponsive during a security check at San Quentin State Prison late Friday.

He was sentenced to death on Oct. 5 by an Orange County judge for killing five women in California, and previously faced the death penalty for three murders in Illinois.

The California victims were Robbin Brandley, 23, in January 1986 in Mission Viejo; Maryann Wells, 31, in September 1988 in San Diego; Julie McGhee, 29, in July 1988 in Cathedral City; Tammie Erwin, 20, in April 1989 in Palm Springs; and Denise Maney, 32, in March 1995 in Palm Springs. The murders occurred while he was stationed at various U.S. Marine Corps facilities in Southern California.

He previously was convicted of killing Cassie Corum, 21, and Lori Uylaki, 25, both from Hammond, Illinois; and Lynn Huber, 22, of Chicago, in the mid-1990s. Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted his sentence to life in prison in 2002 for two murders, and his third sentence was also commuted when Illinois banned the death penalty.

He had been on California's death row since Oct. 12.

Separately, authorities say they found Virendra Govin, 51, unresponsive alone in his cell in a different death row housing unit late Sunday.

Govin was sentenced in December 2004 for committing four Los Angeles County murders.

The victims were Gita Kumar, 42; Plara Kumar, 18: Tulsi Kumar, 16; and Sitaben Patel, 63. Govin, his brother Pravin Govin, and Carlos Amador, then set the Kumars' home on fire in 2002. Govin arrived on death row in January 2005. His brother, Pravin, has been on death row since September 2005.

Officials said that while both men's deaths are being investigated as suicides, there is no indication that their deaths are related.

California has not executed anyone since 2006 and inmates are far more likely to die from suicide or old age.

Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 79 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, and one was executed in Virginia.

There currently are 740 offenders on California's death row.

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Charles Dion McDowell was arrested by the Escambia County Sheriff's Office in Florida for a litany of crimes, including Fleeing/Eluding Police with Lights & Sirens Active and Possession of Meth and Cocaine with Intent to Sell/Manufacture/Deliver.

While the individual had been evading capture and finally catching him was a point of pride for local sheriff’s office, people really just wanted to talk about the guy’s rather sizable neck. 

Kevin Gibson, arrested for possession of marijuana.

(Photo via Miami-Dade County Corrections)

Matthew Ezekiel Stager is a a convicted sex offender. 

(Photo:  U.S. Marshals)

Mahin Khan, 18, is shown in this Maricopa County, Arizona, U.S. Sheriff's Office booking photo from July 1, 2016. Courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS/ File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Mixed martial arts fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller is seen in an undated booking photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in California. Miller was arrested in Southern California on Friday for assault with a deadly weapon on an officer after he threw a ceramic tile at police outside his house, authorities said. REUTERS/Orange County Sheriff's Department/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Robert Young, 43, is seen in this booking photo released to Reuters September 16, 2011. Young is one of two men accused of driving around Denver with their friend?s corpse and using the dead man?s debit card to pay for a night on the town including a visit to a strip club, prosecutors said on Friday. REUTERS/Denver District Attorney's Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Charles Justus, wanted for armed robbery, from Pleasant Hill, California. 

(Photo via Pleasant Hill Police Department)

Stockton Police Department photo shows Jeremy Meeks, 30, arrested on June 18, 2014 in a gang crackdown in a crime-ridden area of Stockton, California. The mugshot of Meeks, a convicted felon, went viral on a police Facebook page this week, making him an instant celebrity with Web users who have called him "handsome" and clicked "like" on his picture more than 64,000 times.

(REUTERS/Stockton Police/Handout via Reuters)

Ryan Elliot Giroux is seen in an undated picture from the Arizona Department of Corrections. Giroux has been identified by police as the gunman opened fire inside a motel room in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa on Wednesday, killing a man and wounding two women before shooting three more people.

(REUTERS/Arizona Department of Corrections/Handout)

The booking mugshot of 92-year-old Helen Staudinger is seen in this handout released March 23, 2011. The central Florida woman fired a semi-automatic pistol four times at her 53-year-old neighbor's house after he refused to kiss her, police said on Tuesday.

(REUTERS/Courtesy of Marion County Sheriffs Office/Handout)

Roger Hooton, charged with burglary of habitation in Dallas. 

(Photo via Dallas Police Department)

Danny West, wanted for 1st degree robbery out of Tulsa County, Oklahoma

(Photo via Tulsa Police Department)

Cody J Plagmann, 37, is seen in an undated booking photo released by the Oregon State Police April 5, 2016. Two men accused of hunting a pair of protected bighorn sheep on private land and beheading them alongside an interstate highway in northern Oregon have been arrested on suspicion of poaching, police say.

(REUTERS/Oregon State Police/Handout)

In this handout from the Utah County Jail, Megan Huntsman is seen in a booking photo April 13, 2014. Huntsman was arrested and booked after the discovery of seven dead babies in cardboard boxes in a garage of a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah. She is charged with six counts of murder, it is reportedly unclear why therer are only six counts, for allegedly killing her own infants between 1996 and 2006.

(Photo by Utah County Jail via Getty Images)

Jesus Rodela of Dallas, wanted for a probation violation. 

(Photo via Dallas Police Department)

In this image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Larry Reid, brother of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, is pictured in a booking photo following his arrest on February 2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reid was arrested by Nevada Highway Patrol and charged with driving under the influence and assaulting a police officer.

(Photo by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via Getty Images)

Nicole Carmon is shown in this booking photo in Thornton, Colorado, U.S., December 19, 2016. Courtesy Thornton Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Linda Thompson, also known as Brian Thompson, is pictured in this undated handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 12, 2016. Laramie County Sheriff's Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
David Lopes Jackson is pictured in this undated booking photo provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Jackson, 35, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson in connection with fires set at the doors of two predominantly African-American churches in St. Louis, police said. REUTERS/St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department/Handout Via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
James Boulware is shown in this 2013 booking photo courtesy of Lamar County Sheriff's Office, released on June 13, 2015. Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the man whom police negotiators had spoken with inside the van identified himself as James Boulware, but police declined to name the suspect pending identification by a medical examiner. REUTERS/Lamar County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Kenneth Stancil is shown in this Volusia County Corrections Department booking photo taken on April 14, 2015. Stancil, the 20-year-old former student, sought in the fatal shooting of an employee at a North Carolina community college was arrested on Tuesday after being found sleeping on a beach in Florida, police said. REUTERS/Volusia County Corrections/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Christian Jose Gomez is pictured in this undated handout booking photo provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff?s Office. Gomez, a Florida man, confessed to decapitating his mother with an ax on New Year's Eve after becoming upset by her request to put some boxes into the attic of their home, authorities said, January 2, 2015. REUTERS/Pinellas County Sheriff?s Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Leonard Sullivan, 73, is seen in a booking photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Las Vegas, Nevada October 13, 2014. One man was shot and wounded on Monday when a gunman opened fire in a state office building in Las Vegas and Leonard Sullivan was taken into custody as a suspect, police said. The booking photo of Sullivan, a resident of Las Vegas, appears to show him being restrained by officers. REUTERS/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Zachary Rapheal Torrance, 18, is pictured in this booking photo provided by the Hueytown Police Department. Torrance, a suspect in an armed robbery of a Subway sandwich restaurant in Alabama, told investigators he acted out of anger because of his failed "Subway Diet," police said on October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Hueytown Police Department/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Beauty queen Kendra Gill is shown in this Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office booking photo released on August 5, 2013. Gill, Utah hometown beauty pageant winner was among four people arrested on suspicion of throwing homemade bombs at houses in a Salt Lake City suburb over the weekend, authorities said on Monday. REUTERS/Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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Richard Allen Schoenfeld is pictured in this booking photo dated January 12, 2012, and received by Reuters June 21, 2012. Schoenfeld 57, was freed on Wednesday after serving more than 34 years in prison for his role in the 1976 abduction of 26 schoolchildren and their bus driver in the town of Chowchilla in central California. REUTERS/California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Alleged drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke wears a wig in this handout photograph released to Reuters June 23, 2010. Coke was arrested by police on the outskirts of Kingston on Tuesday, peacefully ending a manhunt for the fugitive at the center of last month's deadly raids in the Jamaican capital. Coke, 42, is wanted for extradition to the United States on drug and gun trafficking charges. Police said they arrested him without violence at a road checkpoint in the Portmore area of St. Catherine Parish. QUALITY FROM SOURCE. REUTERS/Handout (JAMAICA - Tags: CRIME LAW IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
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While suicides are not uncommon, the pair of deaths comes weeks after a rare slaying.

Officials said Jonathan Fajardo, 30, was fatally stabbed Oct. 5 in a recreational yard. Fellow inmate Luis Rodriguez, 34, is considered the suspect, but investigators were trying to determine a motive and how he obtained or was able to make the weapon.

The suspected suicides were announced the same day that a federal court-appointed special master who oversees prison mental health care criticized California corrections officials for proposing that they be allowed to start negotiating an end to federal oversight of suicide prevention efforts.

Special master Matty Lopes called the state's proposal "incredibly premature" given the continued problems outlined in an expert's report also released Monday.

Attorneys representing inmates said the state's suicide rate is, for the second year in a row, on track to exceed 24 suicides per 100,000 inmates. That was before six suicides since Sept. 1, including the two on death row.

That far exceeds the national state prison rate of 16 suicides per 100,000 inmates.

The exchange came as a federal judge considers appointing an outside investigator to weigh a whistleblower's allegations that top California corrections officials are misleading federal officials about improvements in the treatment of mentally ill inmates.

State officials again denied that there was any fraudulent activity but said some mistakes have since been corrected.

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