Convicted murderer found dead inside cell at Arkansas prison

Agency calls it an apparent suicide

Posted: January 23, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

A convicted murderer was found dead Sunday evening in his Arkansas prison cell of an apparent suicide, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Correction.

Around 5:45 p.m., staff members at the Varner Supermax Unit near Grady found Gregg Anthony Smith, 28, hanging from a homemade noose in his single-person cell, Solomon Graves said in a statement.

Correctional officers and medical personnel immediately began treatment on Smith before he was taken to the prison infirmary, Graves said. Smith was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m.

The Arkansas State Police was immediately notified and responded to the Varner Unit, Graves said.

State police and the Correction Department will each conduct investigations into the death.

Records show Smith was sentenced to 32 years on a charge of first-degree murder out of Randolph County.

Smith fatally stabbed 51-year-old Ronald Dale Cathey on Jan. 19, 2009, after Cathey became angry over Smith dating his daughter, according to the case affidavit.

Police said Smith stabbed Cathey when Cathey pointed a gun at him, and records show Smith then dumped the tarp-wrapped body in the Black River in Lawrence County.

Cathey's body was found floating near the riverbank less than a week later.

The Varner Unit, a high-security prison, is about 75 miles southeast of Little Rock.

Information for this article was contributed by John Moritz of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 01/23/2018