HDSP investigates inmate death as possible homicide

Investigators at High Desert State Prison are investigating the Jan. 8, death of inmate Benjy S. Wade as an alleged homicide.

Wade was found unresponsive in his cell by officers on Jan. 8, 2022, at 4:59 p.m. Life-saving measures were implemented; however, Wade succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 5:15 p.m. His next of kin has been notified.

Wade, 40, was admitted from Colusa County on Aug. 11, 2021, to serve 13 years for second-degree robbery with use of a firearm.

John C. Connell, Wade’s cellmate, has been identified as the alleged suspect in this case. Connell, 55, was first admitted to state prison from Sacramento County on Jan. 5, 1989, to serve five years for robbery while armed with a firearm, and battery with serious injury. He is currently serving life with the possibility of parole after being sentenced in 1998 in Sutter County for escape from a county jail or prison without force, a third strike. This sentence is being served concurrently to the 1988 sentence in Sacramento County, as well as 1992 and 1994 terms from Placer County. His 2015 and 2021 sentences from Lassen County, in-prison offenses, are being served consecutively to the 1988 Sacramento County commitment.

The HDSP Investigative Services Unit and the Lassen County Sherriff’s Department are investigating. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

HDSP, located in Lassen County, opened in 1995 and houses 2,292 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates. The prison provides academic classes, Career Technical Education instruction, work assignments and rehabilitation and self-help programs and employs more than 1,200 people.