Billy Slagle, facing a lethal injection in just days apparently hanged himself on Sunday in his prison cell, said Ohio corrections officials.
Slagle was found by guards at 5 am on Sunday and pronounced dead by authorities only an hour later.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that Slagle had been scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday.
Slagle was put on death row in 1988 after being convicted of murdering a neighbor in her home in Cleveland.
The parole board in Ohio voted 6-4 to deny Slagle’s petition for mercy in June. Ohio Governor John Kasich denied the same request July 24.
The refusal of clemency came even despite the support for commutation from Timothy McGinty, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. He recommended that Slagle have his sentence reduced to life without the possibility of parole.
Slagle was just 18 with a long history of alcohol and drug abuse when he was arrested for the murder of Mari Pope. The Cleveland woman had been stabbed 17 times with a pair of scissors, while her own children were in the home.
In seeking his clemency, Slagle’s attorneys told the board that his family has a long history of problems with alcohol and domestic abuse.
McGinty said he was convinced of the guilt of Slagle, but at the time, the jurors were not allowed the option of considering life without parole. If that same case came to the courts today, it is unlikely prosecutors would ask for the death penalty.
Prison officials launched an immediate investigation to determine how Slagle, who was in solitary, died. On Monday there will be an autopsy performed.
No other details about the hanging were released by authorities.