A convicted serial killer is suspected of murdering his new cellmate at a California prison.
Ramon Escobar, 51, is serving life without parole for killing seven people, including his aunt and uncle, and injuring seven others in a spate of attacks in 2018.
He was sharing a cell at North Kern State Prison in Delano with Juan Villanueva, 53, a fellow lifer convicted of the aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Villanueva was found unresponsive shortly before 9am on Friday and despite lifesaving efforts was pronounced dead a short time later.
Escobar is suspected of killing Villanueva and has been placed in restricted housing pending an investigation, the agency added.
The Kern County coroner will determine the official cause of death, authorities said. Other details weren’t immediately provided.
Escobar was serving a life sentence without chance of parole after pleading guilty last year to killing five men and injuring seven others.
He also pleaded guilty to killing his aunt and uncle in Houston, Texas, in 2018.
Prosecutors said Escobar fled Texas after killing his relatives and was homeless when he began attacking people in Los Angeles and Santa Monica over the course of about two weeks.
Escobar bludgeoned victims with bolt cutters or a baseball bat as they lay sleeping on streets or the beach. All but one were homeless.
He arrived in prison custody last December. Villanueva arrived on February 2, officials said.
Both men were housed in the Reception Center, which processes prisoners admitted from counties throughout California.
Inmates can be held there for up to 90 days while it is determined where they should be placed within the state prison system.