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High Desert State Prison Officials Investigating the Death of an Inmate as a Homicide
By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Published: 03/31/2021

SUSANVILLE– Officials at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) are investigating the death of inmate William R. Dye as a homicide.

Dye, 52, was attacked by two inmates shortly after 11 a.m. on a recreation yard and stabbed with an inmate manufactured weapon. Officers used CS gas and pepper spray to stop the attack. Life-saving measures were initiated but Dye succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 11:58 a.m.

Most recently, Dye was received from Butte County on Nov. 19, 2009, to serve 49 years and four months to life for attempted second-degree murder, possession of a controlled substance, and receiving stolen property. The court also gave him four enhancements for having prior prison terms, another for committing the offense while released on bail, and another for intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury or death. While incarcerated, Dye was also sentenced in Lassen County on Feb. 17, 2017, to serve eight years for assault with a deadly weapon.

Inmates Jason S. Peters and Stefan W. Tonkinson are suspects in this case.

Peters, 28, was admitted from San Bernardino County on April 28, 2014, to serve 16 years for second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery, and vehicle theft, all second strikes, with an enhancement for prior felony conviction of a serious offense.

Tonkinson, 26, was admitted from Sacramento County on Jan. 20, 2017, to serve 10 years -for assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, a second strike, with an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon and another for inflicting great bodily injury.

The HDSP Investigative Services Unit and the Lassen County Sherriff’s Department are investigating. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

HDSP, located in Lassen County, opened in 1995 and houses 3.290 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates. The prison provides academic classes, vocational instruction, work assignments and rehabilitation programs and employs more than 1,200 people.


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