The death of a convicted murderer from Columbia who was found bloodied in his prison cell last month was ruled a homicide by strangulation in an autopsy report, Maryland State Police said Wednesday.

Charles David Richardson IV, 28, who was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for murdering two people in Columbia in 2007, was found under a blanket in his cell bed with trauma to his head on the morning of Sept. 27, police said.

Guards at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cresaptown had rushed into his cell about 5 a.m. after observing his cellmate "in possession of clothing that appeared to be bloodstained" outside the cell on an upper-level tier, police said at the time.

Richardson, who was known as "Face" on the street, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. An autopsy report determined the cause of his death was strangulation, and the state police homicide unit is continuing to investigate the killing, said Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman.

A fellow inmate at the facility, who has not been identified, is a suspect in the killing but has not been charged, Shipley said. He remains in custody.

Police would not say whether Richardson's cellmate is the suspect.

Police will work with the Allegany County state's attorney's office to determine appropriate charges, Shipley said.

Richardson was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for two first-degree murder convictions, as well as assault charges and gun violations, stemming from 2007. Both occurred in Columbia in Howard County.

Richardson was convicted of shooting and killing an acquaintance, 19-year-old Trae Davon Allen, in May 2007. Allen was found in Richardson's townhouse in The Berkshires residential complex off Columbia Road, in the 5200 block of Brook Way in Columbia.

He was also convicted of shooting and killing Alevtina Zhilina, a clerk at a 7-Eleven across the street from The Berkshires, in April 2007.

The murders made Richardson one of Howard County's most violent criminals in recent history.

He was convicted in part because his brother, William Richardson, who was a friend of Allen's, agreed to testify against him.

krector@baltsun.com

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