Palatka man serving life in 2 murders found dead in prison

Jerry Keene was convicted of killing two men, one of them his cellmate

Jerry Keene, 48, was found dead Sept. 26 at Wakulla Correctional Institution. Details about his death have not been released. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

The Florida Department of Corrections is investigating the in-custody death of a 48-year-old Palatka man serving life in prison for a pair of 2016 murders.

Jerry Keene Jr. was found dead Sept. 26 at Wakulla Correctional Institution in Crawfordsville, according to the Department of Corrections. The agency did not release any details about the nature of his death.

“The safe and secure operation of Florida’s correctional institutions is the Department of Corrections' top priority,” the agency said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “Every inmate death is thoroughly investigated to ensure independent oversight and absolute accountability at all levels.”

RELATED: Jury indicts Palatka man in murder case | Inmate hospitalized after jail beating

Citing active investigations by both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, the agency said it could not provide any additional information.

Keene was sentenced to life after he was convicted of the 2016 murders of two men in separate cases, one of whom was his cellmate while he was serving time at the Putnam County jail.

The 48-year-old was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Thomas Lombardo, who was killed during an argument in January 2016. Lombardo’s remains were later found in Ocala National Forest.

While in custody on charges in that case, Keene beat his cellmate Austin Steybe, a 20-year-old man awaiting trial in the murder of his own grandmother. Steybe was taken to a hospital, but he later died of his injuries.

About the Author:

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.