Man Serving Sex Assault Sentence Murdered

Inmate Died From Head, Chest Trauma

RIDGELAND, S.C. -- Department of Corrections officials said that a Spartanburg man who was serving a sentence for sexual exploitation of minors was found dead at the prison.

An autopsy found that Thomas Walter Turner, 40, died of head and chest trauma.

Authorities said that they had initially thought that Turner died of natural causes. He was found dead at Ridgeland Correctional Institution about 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 20.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Communications Director Josh Gelinas said an investigation was begun immediately after the autopsy results were released.

In October 2005, Turner started serving a 16-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Ridgeland is a medium security facility.

Turner was arrested in May 2005 after State Law Enforcement agents found pictures of boys and girls having sex on Turner's home computer.

At the time of that arrest, Turner was a registered sex offender, having been convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in 1998.

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