An inmate in the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge was found murdered Sunday evening, authorities said.

Investigators have two suspects in connection with the death of Danny Lee Hartford. Hartford, 53, was found dead in a cell of a housing unit in the high-security portion of the prison about 8:10 p.m.

Investigators didn’t release how Hartford was killed Monday, because the investigation was still pending, according to Montana Department of Corrections spokesperson Linda Moodry.

Hartford was last seen alive during a head count Sunday at about 6 p.m., Moodry said. The two suspects in Hartford’s death are fellow inmates in the prison.

Moodry didn’t release the identities or the status of the suspects.

Moodry described the block of the prison where Hartford was killed as housing offenders at various levels, and is between the maximum security and low security blocks. It houses some general population prisoners and those transferring to the lower-level security block of the prison, she said.

The unit where Hartford was killed is monitored by prison staff and security cameras. However, Moodry said they don’t have cameras in all the cells at the prison.

“They (the prisoners) are monitored and watched, but, unfortunately things like this can happen,” Moodry said.

The last homicide reported at the prison was in September 2011. Shaun Morrison, 30, is accused of beating, choking and cutting another inmate with a weapon fashioned from razor blades. Morrison has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and is scheduled for trial in November.

Hartford was serving 30 years probation from 1997 on two counts of sexual assault out of Lewis and Clark County. He violated the terms of his probation and was ordered to prison in 2010.

The investigation is being handled by the Montana Department of Corrections, Powell County sheriff’s office and the county attorney’s office.

— Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net or phone at 496-5511. Follow him at Twitter.com/@johnemeigh.

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