Convict in 5 1974 slayings dies in prison

An Arkansas Department of Correction inmate died Monday at the McPherson Unit infirmary in Newport, a prison spokesman said Tuesday.

Inmate Shirley Curry, 79, died of "natural causes" at 8:55 a.m. Monday, prison spokesman Cathy Frye said.

Curry, who had been serving life imprisonment without parole for capital murder out of Washington County, entered the prison system in 1979.

On July 20, 1974, Curry went on a shooting rampage in Springdale, Lowell and Farmington that left five people dead -- her ex-husband, her three children and her former sister-in-law -- and her former brother-in-law critically wounded. Her ex-husband's wife escaped.

The murders occurred one day after the Washington County Chancery Court awarded custody of the couple's three children to Curry's ex-husband, Jimmy Lee Curry.

In January, prison officials stopped releasing a specific cause of death for inmates. Instead, each death is classified as "natural causes" unless there are special circumstances that would lead to an Arkansas State Police investigation.

There have been 34 Arkansas prison deaths since Jan. 1; there were 56 deaths in 2014.

Metro on 08/05/2015