The most recent death in a Centre County prison was ruled a homicide, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.
Just before midnight Wednesday, Derric Harsh was found unresponsive in his cell. He was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 1:08 a.m. Thursday.
Following an autopsy, Deputy Coroner Scott Rawson determined that Harsh’s cause of death was manual strangulation.
The 23-year-old from Millersville was serving eight to 16 years after pleading guilty to rape, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor in Lancaster County in 2016. He had been at Benner state prison since Feb. 2, 2017, according to the Department of Corrections.
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The case is under investigation by state police at Rockview.
Harsh was fourth Centre County state prison inmate to die since Jan. 20, but Sayers said the previous three deaths were suicides.
Conard Carpenter, a 54-year-old Benner state prison inmate, died Jan. 20. He was serving a sentence for sexual assault in Lycoming County.
David Fry, a 40-year-old Rockview state prison inmate convicted of second-degree murder in Erie County, died Feb. 3. He was serving a life sentence and arrived at the prison Jan. 24.
Joseph Little, a 39-year-old Benner state prison inmate, died Feb. 9. He was serving a sentence for theft out of Lycoming County.