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Serial Killer Suspected Of Murdering Convicted Child Rapist Inside Shared Prison Cell

Delano, CA – A convicted child rapist sharing a cell with a convicted serial killer died after being found unresponsive inside the North Kern State Prison (NKSP) last week, according to investigators.

Juan Villanueva, 53, was convicted out of Los Angeles County for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years old and was sentenced to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on Oct. 25, 2022, the CDCR said in a press release on Feb. 24.

Villanueva was transported to the department’s custody on Feb. 2, and was subsequently housed with 51-year-old Ramon Escobar at NKSP.

Escobar was sentenced to the CDCR on May 6, 2022, after being convicted of five counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted first-degree murder out of Los Angeles County.

He was serving life without the possibility of parole on two of the first-degree murder charges, as well as life in prison with the possibility of parole on the remaining three first-degree murder charges, according to the CDCR.

The El Salvador native was deported six times prior to committing the series of murders, KGET reported.

Escobar was transferred to the department’s custody on Dec. 5, 2022.

The CDCR said an NKSP correctional officer was conducting a housing unit “security/welfare check” at approximately 8:49 a.m. on Feb. 24 when he found Villanueva unresponsive inside the cell he shared with Escobar.

The correctional officer immediately called for emergency medical assistance.

“Responding staff initiated lifesaving measures, summoned an ambulance and transported Villanueva to the prison’s triage and treatment area,” the CDCR said.

Despite their efforts, Villanueva was pronounced dead at 9:03 a.m.

Prison officials said the convicted child rapist’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

Villanueva’s exact cause of death will be determined by the Kern County Coroner.

“Officials have limited movement on the housing unit where the attack occurred to facilitate the investigation being conducted by NKSP’s Investigative Services Unit, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office and the Kern County Coroner,” the CDCR noted.

No other information about the homicide investigation was immediately released.

NKSP is a 3,500-inmate medium-security prison that also houses a reception center.

The reception center processes incoming inmates within a 90-day window in order to determine their classification scores and appropriate institutional placement.

The general population area of the prison focusses on providing inmates with vocational and educational opportunities, according to the CDCR.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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