Four inmates charged with guards' murders in deadly attempted prison escape

Wisezah Buckman, Seth J. Frasier, Mikel Brady and Jonathan M. Monk 

North Carolina Department of Public Safety via WNCN

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. -- Four inmates who officials said attempted to escape from a North Carolina prison last week have been charged in the deaths of two prison employees, reports CBS affiliate WNCN.

The inmates allegedly started a fire at a sewing plant inside the Pasquotank Correctional Facility in Elizabeth City on Oct. 12, prison spokesman Keith Acree said in a statement Thursday. After the fire was set, several inmates unsuccessfully attempted to escape, reports CBS affiliate WTKR. It wasn't clear how many inmates were involved in the escape attempt.  

justin-smith-and-veronica-darden.jpg

Justin Smith and Veronica Darden were the two prison employees who died during a failed escape attempt on October 12, 2017 at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, state prison officials said 

North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Justin Smith, a 35-year-old correctional officer and Veronica Darden, a 50-year-old correction enterprises manager, were identified as the two people killed. Darden trained about 30 inmates at the prison sewing plant to make safety vests and other embroidered items, according to officials. Smith also provided security in the sewing plant and had worked as a correctional officer since 2012.

Officials have not said how the victims died.

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble announced Friday that his office has charged inmates Wisezah Buckman, Seth J. Frasier, Mikel Brady and Jonathan M. Monk each with two counts of first-degree murder.

Womble told WNCN this is the "most serious matter I've ever prosecuted."

"I can't imagine these families, what they're going through," said Pasquotank County Sheriff Randy Cartwright.

More charges are expected in connection with the deadly attempted escape.