THE MURDER OF RHONDA OSBORNE
Inmate kills Prison Clerk, then self- The Testimony of a Prison Inmate

Date of Murder: Thursday October 21, 2004 - Copyright ©2012

Rhonda Osborne / Gary Laskowski


Rhonda Osborne was a TDCJ prison administration clerk at the John B. Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas. Me, a long-time prison inmate, was housed in the units administrative segregation area. I recall seeing Osborne working in her office while I was being escorted by officers to the units medical infirmary nearby. Osborne, 33 had light brown hair and kind blue eyes that didn't seem to judge the offenders housed in cell blocks all around her. She carried herself like a professional and never gave the impression of being shady or naive. The last time I saw Ms. Osborne alive, Gary Laskowski, a staff support inmate convicted of rape was sweeping her office while she sat at her desk doing paper work.

A CAPTAIN'S BOY

Laskowski, 38 was a burly clean-cut prison inmate who didn't fit the tattooed prisoner stereotype. He was known among inmates as the “Captain’s Boy” because of his Staff Service Support job at the Connally Unit administration segregation building. He never gave the impression of being a dangerous man. He didn't look like a violent rapist serving a life sentence for the two aggravated sexual assaults he committed in 1988. Many of ad-segs lock-down offenders, including myself could only assume that Laskowski was a confidential informant, also known as a “snitch”. That’s the only possible way an inmate serving life for rape could be allowed to work unsupervised near a young unarmed female clerk.

THE MURDER
On the day of the brutal murder I was housed in A.pod - 1section cell #13 and recall several guards rushing in at around 4:30 P.M to declare an emergency lock-down. An "emergency lock-lown" is when officers seize all inmate traffic because of a unit security threat. My first thought was “damn, who got stabbed?”. I then heard a fellow segregated convict shout for everyone to look out of their cell window. I quickly jumped up onto my bunk and looked outside where I could see an ambulance only 5 feet way pull up into the infirmary dock. I could see a female correctional officer sobbing while other officers stood near by with a look of horror on their faces. I had never seeing a correctional officer sob over the death of an inmate so I figured the unfortunate victim had to be staff.

I was surprised to see paramedics rolling out on a stretcher what appeared to be a mannequin. At closer inspection I was stunned to see that it was actually a dead female body, and then horrorfied to recognize the body was that of ad-seg clerk Rhonda Osborne. Her eye lids were half closed, her lips purple and skin morbidly gray. I could see that Osborne was clearly dead. Cold chills went down my spine. The paramedics then proceeded to roll out another body that appeared to be wrapped around in a black sheet. In closer inspection I realized that the sheet was not black, but drenched with blood. I could not believe what I was seeing.

Prison murders at the Connally Unit was no stranger to me, but never had I seen the dead body of a staff employee, especially that of an innocent young woman. The ambulances left quickly and an hour later I listened to a news flash about the incident on my AM/FM radio. As the week slowly passed I expected to read more about it on the San Antonio Express news paper but when I finally did read the article, I was surprised to discover a small sketchy article about the murder hidden in the locals page. How a senseless murder of this degree could remain so obscure bothered me. Was TDCJ and local media trying to hide something?

THE EYE WITNESS
I was then released back into the prisons inmate general population a few months later where I was housed in the units minimum security dorms. There I met an inmate trusty I knew worked as a Staff Service Inmate with Gary Laskowski. Remembering the murder of Rhonda Osborne, I asked him if he knew anything more about that terrible day. He sat in nervous silence for a minute before admitting to me that he had witnessed the whole murder. "I've got to spend the next 15 years living under the boots of these guards so don't you repeat any of this." He said with anger in his voice. He explained that he had chose to remain neutral with officers and so he did not leave a statement with investigators.

"THE AFFAIR"

The witness informed me that Gary Laskowski was a habitual liar who boasted to his fellow trusty workers that he was having an affair with Rhonda Osborne. Fellow inmates knew that Laskowski was dreaming and even teased him about it. Rumors about this "affair" spread fast but didn't fool me. It would be impossible to have sexual intercourse in a prison full of inmate and officer traffic. Although unsupervised, Osborne's office was located near a medical infirmary with nurses in their station.

OSBORNE CONFRONTS HER KILLER

Rumor about Laskowski's imaginary "affair" found Rhonda Osborne's ears. The trusty witness believes that Rhonda Osborne confronted Laskowski about his lies and informed him that an incident report would be filed. Knowing that the report would lead to trusty job termination, Laskowski decided to kill Osborne. He choked her with his hands until she was dead. Correctional officers walking by observed the door of Ms. Osborne's office was locked. Laskowski had barircaded himself inside Osborne's office where he began undressing and raping his victims lifeless body.

A COVER UP?

A press released by local media reported that the Gary Laskowski had forcibly attempted to rape Osborne while armed with a shank. The report then stated that Laskowski proceeded to strangle Osborne before taking his own life with the shank by cutting the jugular vein in his neck. The SSI who claimed to have witnessed the bloody after mass told me that this was completely untrue. He informed me that there was no way Laskowski could have smuggled a shank into the high secutity Ad-Seg building in such little time. Staff Support Inmates were always body searched and scanned with a metal detector prior to entering the building. Even though possible, chances were very slim.

As for the braided rope made from a sheet. It takes no less than 30 minutes to make a rope out of a bed sheet, considering Laskowski had the tools (a razor blade and heavy book or object) to cut and spin the rope. Many including myself wonder where Laskowski got his weapons? How was he able to quickly "grab" these weapons during an impulse killing. Smuggling in a shank takes planning and most importantly time. So did Laskowski really use a metal shank to take his own life or did officers murder him as rumored around the penitentiary?

THE SARGE

Sergeant Smith was a solid looking correctional officer known to be rough on offenders. I had once witnessed Smith tackle an unruly offender and slam him face-first onto a concrete floor. According to the SSI witness, Smith was the first officer to the murder scene and lost his mind soon after breaking down the closet door and finding Laskowski next to Rhonda Osborne's nude body. The SSI witness informed me that officers had locked him inside a visitation booth only a few yards away from the murder scene. Even though he did not see Sergant Smith attack Laskowski, he could hear the thumping sound of a barbaric beating.

According to media reports, Laskowski’s neck was broken and a make-shift weapon was used to cut Laskowski's neck. His cause of death was ruled a suicide.

VIEW OSBORNE MURDER NEWS PAPER ARTICLE ON PDF - Laredo Morning Times

Prison Weapons - Prison officials are now wearing Stab-Proof vests that resist penetration.