NC inmate charged with attempted murder after stabbing officer, police say

Inmate John L. Griffin
Inmate John L. Griffin N.C. Department of Public Safety

An inmate at an eastern North Carolina prison has been charged with attempted murder after repeatedly stabbing an officer with a homemade weapon, police said.

Mary Crosby, a 17-year veteran of the prison system, was the victim of Tuesday morning’s attack at Harnett Correctional Institution, about 30 miles south of Raleigh, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

The victim is in stable condition at a local hospital, according to Lillington Police Chief Frank Powers. Her injuries were not life threatening, the chief said.

The inmate accused of attacking her, John L. Griffin Jr., faces charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, Powers said. Griffin, 47, is serving a 49-year sentence for first-degree rape.

During Tuesday’s attack, which happened shortly before 11 a.m., Griffin stabbed the officer in the head and neck about eight or nine times, the chief said. He reportedly used a homemade weapon with a 5-inch blade and a handle made from tape, Powers said.

“It was unprovoked as far as I know,” the chief said. “...It was pretty serious. If you’re attacking someone with a shank, you’re intending to kill them. You just missed your target.”

Other officers came to the victim’s aid within seconds, Powers said.

During his time in prison, Griffin has been cited for more than 30 disciplinary infractions, including fighting and assaulting staff with a weapon, state prison records show.

It has been a dangerous time for North Carolina’s prison officers.

In 2017, five prison employees died in attacks at eastern North Carolina prisons.

In April 2017, Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed inside Bertie Correctional Institution – allegedly by an inmate who beat her to death with a fire extinguisher.

And in October of that year, four more employees at Pasquotank Correctional Institution were fatally wounded when a group of inmates, allegedly wielding scissors and hammers, tried to escape the prison’s sewing plant.

Following the killings, state prison leaders took steps to make the prisons safer. But assaults on staff have continued at a steady pace.

In the first seven months of 2018, the state reported 245 assaults on prison workers — more than one assault per day, on average.

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson walks though the legal process from the time someone is arrested until the time they are sentenced.

Ames Alexander, an investigative reporter for the Observer, has examined corruption in state prisons, the mistreatment of injured poultry workers and many other subjects. His stories have won dozens of state and national awards. He was a key member of two reporting teams that were named Pulitzer finalists.