A guard named in a note left by two inmates who bored holes in their cell walls to escape from a New Jersey prison has committed suicide.
The guard's body was found at his home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the day he was due to be interviewed about the incident.
Two inmates who escaped in December thanked the guard in a sarcastic note.
The two had used pin-ups of girls in bikinis to hide the holes through which they broke out.
Otis Blunt and Jose Espinosa jumped from their cells onto a roof before making it over a 25ft (7.6m) fence topped with barbed wire.
They left a note behind thanking the guard, Rudolph Zurick, for a thick piece of wire and a steel water shut-off wheel they had used to escape.
"You're a real pal! Happy Holidays," the note said, alongside a drawing of a hand with a raised middle finger.
Mr Zurick had been cooperating with the investigation and had not been charged with any misdemeanour over the prison break, his lawyer said.
Following the escape, inmates at the Union County jail have been banned from putting cut-outs from magazines on their cell walls.
Both inmates remain at large.
Blunt had been awaiting trial for robbery and weapons offences and Espinosa was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter in a drive-by shooting. ( BBC )