Myrna Summers knows no more today than she did three weeks ago about why her son, an inmate at California Men’s Colony, was killed. Each day she waits for more information about Michael Walsh’s death, but it trickles in slowly from sources other than the prison officials she keeps hoping to hear from.
Prison investigators have not filed charges against the only suspect, who has been held in an administrative segregation unit since the incident. Nor will prison officials release his name or any details about the investigation.
The Tribune has learned the suspect is inmate Roy David Summers, 47, who is serving a life sentence at the prison after being convicted in 1994 of first-degree murder in Southern California.
He has no relation to Walsh’s mom despite the same last name.
Lt. Dean Spears, spokes-man for the prison, said the investigation is ongoing and did not specify when, or if, charges will be filed.
Myrna Summers, 74, learned from a Tribune article that a suspect was in custody. That’s also how she first got the autopsy results. When she asked why no one at the prison had informed her, she was told it’s not prison policy.
“I told them that if it isn’t their policy, then it should be,” Summers said. “This is deeply hurtful. I am mad at the system if that’s how they’ve been told to do it.”
Walsh, 51, died April 22 after an altercation with Roy Summers in the dining room where Walsh worked, according to prison officials. A correctional officer found Walsh lying face down, motionless and unresponsive.
The coroner’s report concluded he died of injuries resulting from blunt-force trauma to his head. The coroner also found that Walsh inhaled blood from facial trauma, which contributed to his death.
Roy Summers was also assigned to work in the dining room as a dish machine operator. It is not known whether he was working that morning.
There are few confirmed details about what might have happened between Walsh and Summers.
It’s not clear who started the fight or what the argument was about.
Walsh had been incarcerated at the prison since June 30, 1997, and was serving a life sentence for multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, false imprisonment, sexual assault with force and assault with a deadly weapon.
Myrna Summers said her son’s job was to hand out juice in the mess hall.
“There were plenty of witnesses,” said Summers, who is frustrated that she still hasn’t been told what happened to her son.
She’s been told that no one saw the incident except for prisoners and that is partly why the investigation is taking so long.
Roy Summers was a federal prison parolee when he shot a man to death in 1993 at a downtown Los Angeles nightclub during an argument about a woman. He was later convicted of first-degree murder for killing Thomas C. Williams. Before that, he had served six years for drug trafficking and weapons charges. He was captured in North Carolina after being featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted,” according to a Los Angeles Times story written at the time.
Amy Keene, Walsh’s sister, said the family’s frustration grows the longer the investigation takes.
“We all loved my brother dearly. He gave more to each of his family members from inside those prison walls than most people with plenty to give monetarily,” Keene wrote in an email. “He gave us love, hope, confidence, words of wisdom and more. He also touched the lives of many within those walls. He always shared what he could with fellow inmates. I find it very strange that we are not being told more.”
Walsh’s death is the first homicide to be investigated at the California Men’s Colony since 2006, according to Spears.