(CNN) — Facing lethal injection in a matter of days, Ohio murderer Billy Slagle was found hanged in his prison cell early Sunday, state corrections officials said.
Slagle was discovered hanged at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution just after 5 a.m. Sunday and was pronounced dead about an hour later, said Jo Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. He was to have been put to death by injection Tuesday, Smith said.
Slagle had been on death row since 1988, convicted of murder after stabbing a neighbor to death in her Cleveland home. Ohio's parole board voted 6-4 against his petition for clemency in June, and Gov. John Kasich denied his request on July 24.
Slagle was 18 and already had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse when arrested in the killing of Mari Anne Pope, who was stabbed to death with scissors while her children were in the home, according to court records. Cuyahoga County prosecutors joined Slagle's family in asking for a reprieve, urging Kasich to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole -- a sentence the prosecutor's office said had not been available at the time.
Slagle was in solitary confinement, Smith said. Prison officials have launched an investigation into how he died, she said.