Pa. inmate stomps on cellmate's head more than 20 times in attack

The victim is now on life-support

Katie Park
The Philadelphia Inquirer

EAGLEVILLE, Pa. — In what appeared to be an unprovoked attack, an inmate at the Montgomery County Correctional Institution beat his cellmate so savagely over the weekend that the victim is now on life support, authorities said Thursday.

Joseph Michael Hodum, 38, of Philadelphia, was charged Thursday with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and related offenses.

The victim, Stephen Klampfer, 50, of Norristown, was airlifted to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia, where authorities said he showed extensive brain trauma as a result of the attack and is in a medically induced coma. It is unclear, they said, if he will survive.

Around 8:30 a.m. March 30, investigators said, Hodum and Klampfer were in a cell within the medical unit of the correctional facility. Kate Delano, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, said she could not discuss why they were undergoing medical treatment.

Hodum walked to the cell door and began yelling, then turned his attention to Klampfer, who was face-up in his bed, asleep.

Christopher Hartnett, a correctional officer in training, and Jeffrey Heckman, a more senior correctional officer who had been assigned to keep watch over the area, told investigators they saw Hodum punch Klampfer in the head more than a dozen times, then stomp on his head more than 20 times, according to an affidavit of probable cause for Hodum’s arrest.

When the assault began, Heckman said, he immediately called for other staff members to help stop the attack, the affidavit said.

The correctional officers told investigators Klampfer did not try to defend himself other than rolling onto the floor from his bed.

Interviewed by county detectives three hours after the beating, Hodum admitted beating and stomping Klampfer, but said he did so in retaliation for a sexual advance.

Hartnett, the correctional officer, contradicted Hodum’s account, saying Klampfer was asleep when the assault began.

Klampfer was convicted of aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and public drunkenness in 2014. It was unclear why he was in jail.

Hodum was convicted that same year of theft and receiving stolen property. Delano, of the district attorney’s office, said she believed Hodum was back in jail on a probation violation.

He faces a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 1 on his most recent charges. He remains in the county prison with bail set at $1 million.


©2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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