Rapist found hanging in cell

James Blackburn

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A Warren man convicted in 2005 of raping his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son was found hanging in his prison cell on Tuesday, officials said.

James Blackburn, 31, was found dead at 2:09 a.m. Tuesday in his cell at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Lebanon. He was pronounced dead at 2:27 a.m.

The death is being investigated as a suicide but a coroner has not yet ruled on the death, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spokesperson Ricky Seyfang said.

Blackburn was in the midst of serving a 21 year prison sentence after being convicted of three counts of rape in 2006.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the death and the ODRC is conducting an internal administrative investigation, Seyfang said.

It’s the eighth death of an inmate in an Ohio prison in 2013 and the first since Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Aerial Castro was found hanging in his cell last week. He was weeks into serving a life-plus-1,000-years prison sentence.

Two prison guards were placed on administrative leave on Tuesday while ODRC conducts their investigation.

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