WILMINGTON, N.C. — The man charged with killing a UNC-Wilmington student died Thursday after leaping off a staircase onto a hard floor at a prison in an apparent suicide attempt, correction officials said.
Curtis Dixon, 21, broke away from a correction officer Wednesday night, ran to the top of a cell block staircase and leaped headfirst to the concrete floor about three levels below, correction officials said.
Dixon was charged with murder in the death of Jessica Lee Faulkner, a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Defense lawyer Rick Miller questioned how the incident happened. Dixon was in safekeeper status, a security designation for inmates at risk of harm from themselves or others.
"There has always been a concern about him harming himself, but he was in safekeeping for that purpose," Miller said.
The Department of Correction said a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry had been requested.
He was pronounced dead about 4:40 p.m. at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, correction spokesman Keith Acree said.
Dixon, of Charlotte, was awaiting a death-penalty trial after being charged with first-degree murder, rape, sex offense and kidnapping. Faulkner's body was found May 5 in Dixon's room in a university dorm. An autopsy showed she was injected with the pain reliever hydrocodone.
Faulkner's death was the first of two killings of female students this year at UNC-Wilmington.