Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 14 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Gunfire (Accidental)
Incident Date: 11/24/1944
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: Not available
Guard Zoeth Skaggs was killed during an escape attempt by 10 inmates from the Stateville Correctional Center.
The escape attempt started in either the furniture factory or the coal division when the escaping inmates overpowered guards. They made a makeshift ladder, which may have been too short for the 32-foot high fence surrounding the prison and stole a truck. The inmates raced the truck to Tower 12 at the southeast corner of the institution and laid the ladder on the wall.
When the guard manning the tower challenged the inmates, they told him they were there to fix the searchlight. He told them the searchlight was never repaired from inside and ordered them to stop. The guard opened fire when they refused and the inmates threw Molotov cocktails in his direction.
During the five-minute attempted escape, approximately 25 rounds were fired by the tower guards, one of which struck Guard Skaggs, who died about an hour and a half later.
Guard Skaggs had served with the Illinois Department of Corrections for 14 years. He was survived by his wife and four sons. Before serving with the agency, Guard Skaggs was a school teacher in Marion.