Correctional Officer Darla Kay Lathrem

Correctional Officer Darla Kay Lathrem

Florida Department of Corrections, Florida

End of Watch Wednesday, June 11, 2003

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Darla Kay Lathrem

Correctional Officer Darla Lathrem was killed as she supervised five inmates on a construction detail inside the Charlotte Correctional Institution.

She was assaulted by three of the inmates as they made an attempt to escape. The inmates were assisting with the building of a new dormitory for the maximum security prison and had access to tools such as hammers and screwdrivers. They attacked her with a five-pound sledgehammer.

Two of the inmates were attacked by the other three when they refused to participate in the escape attempt. One of the victim inmates died as a result of his injuries.

Two of the escaping inmates were captured between the facility and the inner perimeter fence. The third was caught between the inner and outer perimeter fences. The inmate that killed Officer Lathrem was sentenced to death on March 31st, 2006. The 'mastermind' of the escape attempt was convicted of her murder on June 23rd, 2006 and sentenced to death on August 18th, 2006. The third inmate had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a life sentence, but the judge rejected his guilty plea because of concerns about his mental competence.

Officer Lathrem's death was the first corrections officer fatality at the facility. Additionally, she was the first female corrections officer to be killed in the line of duty in Florida. She had served with the Florida Department of Corrections for one year. She was survived by her parents.


  • Age 38
  • Tour 1 year
  • Badge 00443

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Blunt object; Hammer
  • Offender Sentenced to death

correctional Facility, escape attempt

Most Recent Reflection

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Darla, we never met but the day you were taken away from my Correctional family was one day before I left corrections for good. A part of me wished he had met before you were taken away so tragically. Your final day will always be tied to my final day. I pray that your soul has found peace in the arms of our maker. Continue the cause by guarding the golden gates in case one of the bad guys makes it past us. We'll see you on the other side one day.

Randolph Merritt Correctional Officer
Jackson Correctional Institution and Gwinnett County Sheriff Office

December 9, 2023

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