A newly completed autopsy on Sgt. Meggan Callahan confirms that she was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher inside a North Carolina prison.
The autopsy report, released by a pathologist at East Carolina University on Tuesday, appears to support what law enforcement officials suspect – that an inmate at Bertie Correctional Institution beat Callahan in the head on April 26.
State officials say inmate Craig Wissink set a fire inside a trash can, then hit Callahan in the head with the fire extinguisher she brought to put out the flames.
Wissink, who is in prison for first-degree murder, was again charged with murder following Callahan’s death.
Dr. Karen Kelly, the pathologist, found that the cause of death was “traumatic head injuries due to assault with fire extinguisher,” according to a representative with the eastern regional medical examiner’s office.
The autopsy also said contributing factors were thermal burns to the face, chest and left arm, the representative said. That appears to support the assertion that Wissink heated water in a microwave and threw it at Callahan before beating her, as a prison disciplinary report alleges.
The manner of Callahan’s death, the autopsy found, is homicide.
A state State Bureau of Investigation official previously told the Observer that Wissink “targeted” Callahan. It’s not clear why.
“It was violent and deliberate,” Anthony Jernigan, who heads the office that covers northeastern North Carolina, told the Observer in May.
Two other officers and 60 inmates were nearby when Callahan was attacked, Jernigan said at the time. One of the officers fell and hurt her knee when she went to Callahan’s defense, Jernigan said.
State prison officials have rejected the Observer’s request for a copy of the surveillance video that captured the attack, saying it contains “sensitive public security information.”
Wissink has been serving a life sentence for murder since 2004. He and a co-defendant were convicted of shooting John Lawrence Pruey during an attempted robbery in Fayetteville in June 2000.
Wissink’s court-appointed lawyer could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.