Deputy Gate Keeper George W. Haight - Michigan State Prison at JacksonMarch 27, 1893: Deputy Keeper George Haight was the first employee to be killed in the line of duty for the Michigan Department of Corrections after an inmate poisoned his food with a mixture of opium and prussic acid (cyanide) at the Michigan State Prison, in Jackson, during an elaborate escape attempt.
The inmate had tricked the night captain into believing he had buried treasure in Rhode Island and that he would share it with him. The promise of the treasure prompted the captain to give the inmate additional liberties and freedom to move around the prison at night.
Despite serving a life sentence for poisoning his mother, and being suspected of poisoning his father, the night captain allowed the inmate to order prussic acid from an outside pharmacy. On the night of the inmate's escape, the inmate was assisted in preparing meals for the guards and poisoned them with the mixture. As the guards ate and drank their meals they immediately because extremely ill and unable to move.
When Deputy Keeper Haight collapsed from his chair he knocked down several plates, causing a loud noise that drew the attention of another guard who hadn't been poisoned. When the other guard came to investigate he discovered the inmate tending to Deputy Keeper Haight. The inmate told the guard that the keeper was dying, and was subsequently sent to get help. The inmate instead took the prison keys, two revolvers, and walked out of the prison.
He was arrested several days later and charged with murdering Deputy Keeper Haight. The night captain was also arrested and charged with being criminally negligent.
Deputy Keeper Haight was a Civil War veteran and had served at the Michigan State Penitentiary for eight years. He was survived by his wife and five children.