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Two held over death row escape plot

Two men, including a former prison guard, have been arrested in a plot to break out Tennessee's lone female death row inmate.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said there was no imminent danger of an escape by Christa Gail Pike, but "there was a plan in the works and money changing hands".

Pike, was sentenced to death in 1996 for the killing of a fellow Knoxville Job Corps student.

Colleen Slemmer, 18, was stabbed and beaten by Pike and Tadaryl Shipp, Pike's boyfriend at the time, on the University of Tennessee's agricultural campus in January 1995.

Prosecutors have said the motive for the killing was a love triangle with the two women and Shipp, who was sentenced to life in prison.

The two carved a pentagram into Ms Slemmer's chest, and investigators claimed Pike, who was 18 at the time, took a piece of the victim's skull for a souvenir.

New Jersey authorities on Tuesday arrested 34-year-old Donald Kohut who has frequently visited Pike in prison.

He was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit escape and was being held at the Hunterdon County Department of Corrections on a 250,000 US dollar bond and awaiting extradition.

A former correctional officer at the Tennessee Prison for Women, 22-year-old Justin Heflin, was arrested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit escape and facilitation to commit escape.

Heflin turned himself into authorities and was jailed on Tuesday on a 75,000 US dollar bond. Heflin was hired in March 2009, but was fired from his job on March 5 after he was indicted by a grand jury last month.


From Belfast Telegraph