Inmate charged in murder of prison nurse

  1. July 23, 2004

    Inmate charged in murder of prison nurse
    Associated Press

    RIVERTON (AP) -- An inmate who has served nine years of a 10-to-30-year sentence for rape and had been eligible for parole was arrested Friday in the murder of a nurse at the Wyoming Honor Farm.

    Floyd DeWayne Grady, 28, of Cheyenne, was charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, attempted sexual assault and kidnapping in the death of Tammy Sue Watts, who worked at the minimum-security Riverton prison.

    Watts, 39, of Hudson, died April 15 of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the face and head, according to an autopsy report.

    Grady allegedly killed Watts "purposely, and with premeditated malice ... while attempting to perpetrate the crime of first-degree sexual assault," Fremont County Attorney Mike Barton stated in an affidavit filed in Ninth Circuit Court.

    Grady faces the death penalty if convicted on all charges.

    The man was suspected early in the investigation and was moved April 21 to the more secure Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins.

    "We just wanted to make sure we did everything carefully," Barton said of the three-month span before filing of charges. "We still do not have all the forensic evidence. Approximately 100 items were sent to the crime lab for exam."

    Grady had been an inmate at the Honor Farm since November 2002 and was eligible for parole, Warden Gary Starbuck said.

    He was originally sent to the state penitentiary in May 1995 after being sentenced to 10 to 30 years for first-degree sexual assault, Corrections spokeswoman Melinda Brazzale said.

    "He did appear in front of a parole board in November of 2003 and was granted parole to Indiana only, contingent on whether Indiana would accept him," she said. "They denied it. That makes his parole null and void."

    Brazzale said his next parole board hearing had been scheduled for January 2005.

    Watts' body was found in a dental examination room within a nurse's office at the Honor Farm, where she had worked for more than a year. The nurse's office is in the basement of the administration building.

    A co-worker discovered her body around 6:45 a.m., about 45 minutes after Watts had signed in for work.

    Detective Sgt. Joe Davis of the Riverton Police Department stated in an affidavit he saw evidence of a struggle, including a spilled carton of coffee creamer and liquid on the carpet and rear wall.

    Upon interviewing staff and inmates, Davis learned that Grady had been seen numerous times on the morning of Watts' death in the nurse's office area.

    An inmate stated he saw Grady around 6:30 a.m. with what appeared to be blood on his face.

    "The inmate asked Grady about the red spot on his face, at which time Grady immediately bolted to his dorm," the affidavit said.

    Fingerprints lifted from a foot guard on the bottom of a dental chair matched Grady's left index and middle fingers. In addition, DNA analysis of blood on the sleeves and chest area of Grady's prison-issued jacket revealed that the blood matched that of the victim.

    Clinic logs record that Grady was seen for medical treatment five times from March 4 and March 29, and 10 times between April 1 and April 14.

    "He was seen most often by the victim," the officer said. "I further learned that the victim's supervisor became concerned about the suspect's frequent visits to Watts.

    "On April 14, the victim's supervisor discussed her concerns with the victim and made arrangements for the suspect to see an alternate nurse on all subsequent visits."

    Riverton police conducted more than 250 interviews with inmates and employees of the Honor Farm before turning their findings over to the Fremont County attorney's office in late June.

    Grady would have completed his original sentence in September 2017, "based on whether his behavior warranted it," Brazzale said.

    Watts was a Lander native and graduate of Lander Valley High School who had worked for a variety of companies in the area, including Lander Valley Medical Center, Westward Heights Care Center and the Wyoming State Training School.

    The murder sparked a review of both the prison and the state's inmate classification system.
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  3. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks so much for posting this information. I had been looking for further information about the death of this prison nurse. Very sad.
  4. by   renerian
    That is very sad. I am reading it as I was considering applying to a prison........

  5. by   jnette
    How very tragic. Sad indeed.

    Why in the heck would they place a nurse's office in the basement of all places?
  6. by   nightingale
    I also heard, because I know some people in Wyoming, that ALL the Nursing Staff quit working at the Honor Farm (I know I would).

    How awfully sad the story is.
  7. by   athensgrrl
    AaaccckK! I just interviewed with a prison today! This makes me a bit nervous!
  8. by   Nurse_Peachie
    Quote from athensgrrl
    AaaccckK! I just interviewed with a prison today! This makes me a bit nervous!
    I work in an all male prison. And, yes I do worry about stuff like this happening, so does my husband. I love my job and wouldn't trade it. I am very aware of my surroundings and never for a minute forget where I work and who I am around all day.

    The story is very sad and tragic... and frightening I must add. But, as we all know, this could happen anywhere. ER is almost as bad as a prison... in prison we know to expect something... in ER, you just take for granted that everyone is good and honest people.