An inmate at a state prison facility has confessed to killing a fellow inmate in April in a letter sent to The Dispatch. But State Highway Patrol investigators will not confirm the information because the investigation is ongoing.

Joel Drain, 37, of Findlay, sent the letter to The Dispatch claiming responsibility for the April 15 death of 29-year-old Christopher M. Richardson at a Dayton-area hospital from injuries suffered in an assault two days earlier at the Warren Correctional Institution.

“I did it on camera, coaxed him in my cell. Beat him. Stabbed him. And strangled him,” Drain wrote.

Richardson, of Ashley, in Delaware County, had been serving a four-year prison sentence for aggravated arson for setting the home he shared with his mother on fire on Jan. 28, 2017. She escaped the fire.

Richardson “tried to stand up for a known child molester,” Drain wrote in his letter. “I gave him what he deserved. No apologies.”

Drain is already serving a life sentence for murder and other charges. According to court records, Drain stabbed 56-year-old Randy Grose multiple times in the head and abdomen and strangled him in 2016 in Hancock County. Strangulation was utimately determined to be the cause of death.

Drain initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in that case, but was found competent to stand trial. He entered a guilty plea in July 2016 to aggravated murder, felonious assault and grand theft auto. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 38 years.

In his July 11 letter, Drain accuses the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which has not publicly identified the inmate responsible for Richardson’s death, of trying to manipulate other inmates into making statements against him. He also questioned in the letter why he had not been indicted for Richardson’s homicide by the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It’s all black and white,” he wrote, adding that authorities “know exactly what happened.”

He wrote that the investigation is taking longer than he believes necessary because the state is trying to prevent a lawsuit being filed by Richardson’s family.

The Dispatch reached out to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell, who said he would not confirm or deny any possible investigations. Warren County court records show no pending cases against Drain.

A State Highway Patrol incident report for the April 13 stabbing has a two-sentence narrative which reads: “The suspect inmate assaulted the victim inmate in a cell at Warren Correctional Institution. The victim inmate later succumbed to his injuries at Miami Valley Hospital.”

The report does not identify the suspect inmate or victim inmate.

In his letter, Drain said he was transferred the day after the assault to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, where Drain’s letter and prison records indicate he is currently incarcerated.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokesperson JoEllen Smith said the investigation is ongoing by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which has jurisdiction over Ohio’s prisons.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Craig Cvetan said an investigation is ongoing and evidence is continuing to be collected and processed. He said Drain is a person connected with the investigation but is unable to disclose additional information because the case is continuing.

Investigators received a finalized coroner’s report in mid-July and are working with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.

In general, an investigation into a homicide will take months, Cvetan said, because of the need to have finalized autopsy reports, evidence tested and results compiled at laboratories and the extensive nature of the investigation in general.

“Three months is not that long,” he said. “You have to prove a lot of different things in solidifying the case.”

 

bbruner@dispatch.com

@bethany_bruner