SBI: Inmate targeted slain Bertie corrections officer, intentionally set fire

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WINDSOR, N.C. (WNCT) — The inmate charged with killing a female correctional officer at the Bertie Correctional Institution purposely targeted her, according to SBI Special Agent in Charge Anthony Jernigan.

Jernigan said Craig Wissink intentionally set the fire Sgt. Megan Lee Callahan responded to before she was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.

Craig Clifford Wissink, 35, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the killing of Callahan.

Callahan and two other officers responded to the fire around 5:30 p.m. April 26 in a dormitory at Bertie Correctional Institution. Callahan got a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the fire when authorities said Wissink attacked her.

Wissink managed to get the fire extinguisher away from Callahan and assaulted her with it, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

In a 911 call made shortly after the attack, an officer tells the dispatcher there is an officer down suffering a contusion to the head.

Callahan died from injuries sustained from the attack at about 6:20 p.m. despite life-saving measures conducted by Bertie CI medical staff and local first responders.

Wissink has been in prison since April 2004, serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction in Cumberland County. Court documents reveal that Wissink, who had served time in Raleigh’s Central Prison before being moved to Bertie, has now been moved back to Central Prison, according to his arrest warrant.

Officials released the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened and send my heartfelt sympathies to Sergeant Callahan’s family,” said Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “We will do all we can to support her family as well as the correctional family. The department will cooperate fully with the law enforcement investigation as well as conduct its own internal investigation.”

David Guice, chief deputy secretary of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, said they will begin reviewing policies in an effort to keep the rest of their staff safe.

“Our extended family is grieving but we are also very mindful of miss Callahan family, her parents her sister and other family members at this time,” Guice said.

The department requested that the State Bureau Investigation conduct a full investigation into the sergeant’s death.

Callahan, of Edenton, has been with the department since January 2012. She was promoted to sergeant in February 2016.

Thursday, her friends in Edenton couldn’t believe the news.

“I was hoping [the news] was wrong because she meant a lot to a lot of people,” lifelong friend Michelle Rowell told WAVY.

Rowell described Callahan as a humorous person, but more like family to her friends.

Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all state flags to fly at half-mast on April 27.

Callahan’s funeral will be held May 4 at the Family Life Center of the Edenton United Methodist Church.

Callahan was a member of St. Anne Catholic Church in Edenton.

Full law enforcement honors will be accorded at the service.

Callahan is survived by her parents and her fiance.

The Police Benevolent Association has set up a memorial fund for Callahan’s family. You can donate here.

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