BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)— A sergeant with the North Dakota State Penitentiary (NDSP) was fired Thursday after an internal investigation determined he violated department policy by failing to perform proper cell checks on Chad Isaak the evening of his death.
Isaak died by suicide the evening of July 31st after his cellmate found him hanging in the cell they shared. In December 2021, Isaak was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders of Bill and Lois Cobb, Adam Fuehrer and Robert Fakler at RJR Maintenance and Management in Mandan in April 2019.
An investigation into Isaak’s suicide revealed that the evening of July 31st, Isaak covered his cell with cardboard. Despite the cell being obscured, Sgt. DeAndre Adams walked past the cell twice while conducting rounds, once at 4:53 p.m. and again at 5:28 p.m., without stopping or opening the cell door to get visual confirmation that Isaak was inside.
A timeline of events provided by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) shows that Isaak’s cellmate returned to the cell at 5:33 p.m. and looked inside. He then ran to the unit control room to notify Adams that Isaak was hanging inside the cell. Adams reached the cell about a minute later and attempted to perform lifesaving measures. A registered nurse arrived at the cell at 5:37 p.m. and requested that Metro Ambulance be contacted to respond to the prison. A Metro Ambulance crew arrived at Isaak’s cell at 5:55 p.m.
Isaak was transported to Sanford Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m.
The DOCR internal investigation reports reviewed by KX News show that Adams was employed with the DOCR since April 2021. He had two prior disciplinary actions against him and received a written reprimand for each.
The first incident occurred on August 24, 2021 and involved a failure to conduct a proper count. The second incident was on May 27, 2022 when Adams reportedly watched potential contraband pass between two inmates but failed to intervene.
In a letter dated September 22, NDSP Warden James Sayler writes, “Your credibility, professionalism, and the trust I had in you as a Sergeant are irreparably damaged. This level of trust, which is expected of every team member, is something I no longer have in you, due to your misconduct.”
Sayler went on to write that Adams’ employment with the DOCR was terminated effective September 22, 2022.
The internal investigative reports show that on or around August 11th, the Burleigh County State’s Attorney declined to criminally prosecute Adams in relation to the incident.
Adams has 15 working days to appeal his termination to human resources.