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Prison Warden Who Was Stabbed By Female Guard Is Suspended for Losing Key

January 12, 1989

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) _ A warden has been suspended for losing the master key to the prison, an incident that corrections officials believe is linked to the warden’s relationship with a female guard who allegedly stabbed him.

Travis Jones, 49, warden at the maximum-security Huron Valley Men’s Facility in Ypsilanti, was placed on indefinite suspension without pay Jan. 3, the day he was stabbed in the back by Sgt. Olivia Pitts, officials said.

He faces a Corrections Department hearing Jan. 30, spokeswoman Gail Light said Thursday.

The stabbing occurred at a service station in Jackson, where Jones stopped for gas on his way to work. Police said Pitts, a guard at the Cotton Regional Facility in Jackson, followed Jones to the service station and stabbed him with a 6-inch knife when he got out of his car.

Jones was treated at a hospital and released.

Corrections officials believe the key was lost during an argument between the two Dec. 17 in Pitts’ apartment.

Jones was found naked and struggling with the knife-wielding Pitts, who had summoned police, according to police reports.

He left the woman’s apartment after receiving a change of clothing. Corrections officials believe the key to the 470-bed prison was lost in his original clothing.

Pitts said she had been involved in an eight-year affair with Jones, who is married, according to court records. Jones said Pitts, who has been suspended from her job and faces felony charges in the stabbing incident, was caught in a ″Fatal Attraction″-type relationship and that he was trying to counsel her.

″Fatal Attraction″ was a 1987 film about a woman’s obsessive pursuit of a married man.

While the lost master key unlocks all interior doors, including cells, it does not unlock exterior doors or the prison’s weapon’s arsenal, Light said.

Replacing the locks would cost $40,000 to $65,000, she said, adding that corrections officials haven’t decided whether to make the change.

″The supposition is that the key was not lost inside the institution but is floating around somewhere outside the prison,″ Light said.

Pitts, who was called an excellent employee by Peter Blakeley, an assistant to the warden at the Cotton facility, faces charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and carrying a concealed weapon. Free on $5,000 bond, she waived a preliminary examination and was bound over for arraignment in Jackson County Circuit Court on Jan. 18, according to the county Prosecutor’s Office. The maximum penalty for convictions on the charges is 10 years in prison.

Don Houseworth, deputy director of the department’s bureau of correctional facilities, was serving as acting warden of the Huron Valley facility, Light said.

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