Sergeant Barbara Ester
Arkansas Department of Correction, Arkansas
End of Watch: Friday, January 20, 2012
Tour of Duty: 12 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Stabbed
Date of Incident: January 20, 2012
Weapon Used: Edged weapon; Shank
Suspect Info: In custody
Agency Contact Information
Director Ray Hobbs
Arkansas Department of Correction
PO Box 8707
Pine Bluff, AR 71611
Phone: (870) 267-6999
Sergeant Barbara Ester was stabbed to death by an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys, Arkansas.
She had observed an inmate in possession of contraband pair of sneakers and entered the open barracks to confiscate them. As she approached the inmate he suddenly stabbed her twice in the stomach with a shank.
Sergeant Ester was flown to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she succumbed to her wounds.
The inmate, who had was serving a life sentence for murder, was immediately taken into custody and transferred to the maximum security wing of the prison.
Sergeant Ester had served with the Arkansas Department of Correction for 12 years. She is survived by her husband, who also serves as an officer at the same facility.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—A convicted murderer stabbed a female guard to death at an east Arkansas prison Friday while she was investigating whether he had an unauthorized pair of shoes, a prison spokeswoman said.
Sgt. Barbara Ester, 47, was stabbed in the side, abdomen and chest at about 12:30 p.m., said Shea Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Correction. Ester died about 3 p.m. at a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., about 40 miles away.
Ester, a 12-year veteran of the correction department, was a property officer who investigated whether inmates had contraband items. Wilson said the guard had received a report that Johnson had a pair of contraband shoes.
"This is obviously very difficult for the department when something tragic like this happens," Wilson said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Ester’s family. These officers — it’s a tight-knit workplace. They look out for each other and are there together for a lot of hours of the day, so this is very difficult for everyone."
Wilson said the prison was locked down after the attack and that the inmate, Latavious Johnson, was being moved to the state’s maximum-security unit at Varner. She said all the other inmates have been accounted for. Prison officials haven’t said specifically what Johnson used during the attack, only that it was an object that had been sharpened.
Johnson, 30, was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder out of Jefferson County. He was sentenced in 2000 for killing his father. Prosecutors said Johnson was 18 at the time of the crime.
Wilson said Johnson had had several disciplinary infractions, including one this week for not obeying orders, but hadn’t previously attacked a guard.
"We will move him to the supermax (prison) so he will be out of that environment … He needed to be out of that environment," Wilson said.
Arkansas State Police and the prison’s internal affairs staff were investigating the stabbing. Wilson said authorities would turn over their information to prosecutors, who will determine whether to file charges against the inmate.