Inside The ‘Black Site’ Federal Prison Where An Insurance Scammer Was Allegedly Killed By A Jihadi

REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Michael Volpe Contributor
Font Size:

Robert David Neal, an insurance scammer, was killed and nearly beheaded in November 2018 by Rodney Hamrick, a jihadi and former resident of Supermax in Colorado, according to a court filing.

Both Neal and Hamrick were being housed in the Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The CMU is one of several prisons created by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in response to 9/11, which generally house terrorists and significantly restrict the communications of inmates.

The Killing Of Robert David Neal

Robert David Neal, 68, died at the Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Terre Haute, Indiana, Nov. 10, 2018, according to a local outlet.

While the manner of death was reported to be a homicide, the prison officials did not release the name of the perpetrator.

Two other inmates housed at the CMU have taken an interest in the killing, Marty Gottesfeld and Schaeffer Cox. Gottesfeld received a ten year sentence after he diverted traffic to the Boston Children’s Hospital in 2014, to protest their treatment of Justina Pelletier, a teenager many said was medically kidnapped by the hospital and Child Protective Services. Cox was a militia leader in Alaska, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in 2012.

Gottesfeld and Cox wrote an article about the murder, and in an effort to publicize it, in August 2019, Gottesfeld filed a motion in his case in which the article was an exhibit.

“Former-U.S.-Army-soldier-turned-radical-Islamic-fighter Rodney Hamrick took 68-year-old former insurance executive Robert David Neal hostage inside of a federal facility. He bound Neal’s hands behind his back, as well as his feet, and then executed him, ISIS-style, nearly severing his head,” the unfinished article begins.

In a different court filing, Hamrick was identified as an adherent of the Hanbali School of Islam.

TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA – JULY 25: A truck is used to patrol the grounds of the Federal Correctional Complex Terre Haute on July 25, 2019 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Today U.S. Attorney William Barr announced that the federal government would resume executing prisoners after a two-year hiatus.The first five are scheduled to be executed at the Terre Haute prison between December 9 this year and January 15, 2020. The federal government has executed four prisoners since 1960. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hamrick’s Violent Night

On September 5, 2019, Richard Warren, another inmate at the CMU, testified at the sentencing hearing for another CMU inmate Kurt Johnson about a previous violent incident allegedly involving Hamrick.

According to Warren’s testimony during a sentencing hearing for Johnson, Johnson protected him during another attack by Hamrick on the same night.

Warren said that Hamrick would talk to him on occasion in his cell, so when he entered on this particular evening, he thought nothing of it. Some movement between cells was allowed in the CMU.

18-40043-1 Richard Warren T… by mikekvolpe on Scribd

“He grabbed me from behind,” the testimony says happened next. “He had a seven-inch ice pick with a list of names, mine being at the top of the list, and a rag. He stabbed me here (indicating) and it hit my bone and pushed the ice pick up in his hand. I elbowed him and knocked him up against my locker and stood besides the door and I turned to face him. He then held that up, pulled it down, flipped it over and started stabbing me.”

Warren said he put his arms up and defended himself.

“At that very moment, Mr. Johnson was walking by down the hallway and he stepped in between me and Mr. Hamrick. And Mr. Hamrick, when I hit him and knocked him back, when I had yelled, he dropped both the note, the weapon and the rag on the ground,” Warren continued. “Mr. Johnson stood between me and him. He then Mr. Johnson told him he doesn’t know what’s going on but enough is enough. He reached down, picked up his thing and left.”

Later in the testimony, Warren said Hamrick singled out Christians as potential targets.

“And, by the way, we were attacked because we were Christians and he made that very clear. I had no idea until later that night I got to the hospital, Union Hospital, that David Neal had even been killed by the same person, with a single stab wound to the heart, and afterward he tried to cut his head off, literally sliced his neck around.”

The Balancers

Johnson is currently serving time for several fraud schemes while Warren was convicted of 11 counts of wire fraud in a Ponzi scheme.

Gottesfeld, who was featured in the Caller in October 2019, is a hacker who shut down the system at Boston Children’s Hospital over the psychiatric detention of Justina Pelletier, an incident some outlets, including National Review, have described as a “medical kidnapping.” (RELATED: Wife Of Convicted Hacktivist Speaks Out Over Husband’s Prison Conditions)

Pelletier’s case became national news after Boston Children’s Hospital, on the family’s first visit, claimed a mitochondrial disorder, which had been treated at Tufts, was diagnosed as psychosomatic.

The hospital called social services, which kept her in a psych ward for months while she deteriorated.

Gottesfeld believed Pelletier’s life was in danger, according to his wife Dana Gottesfeld, having heard about similar stories in the past.

A Boston Globe report stated Justina, while in social services custody, started slurring and, “was having so much trouble swallowing that her mother was worried her daughter might choke to death.”

Gottesfeld’s hacking redirected enormous internet traffic to the Boston Children’s Hospital website during its fundraising drive, shutting down the site. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison, and while imprisoned he has written work that has been featured in Red State and  Huffington Post.

TERRE HAUTE, IN – MAY 23: View of the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex where “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh served time for fighting with the Afghan Taliban, May 23, 2019 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lindh was the first US-born detainee in the war on terror served 17 years of a 20-year sentence where he pleaded guilty to fighting alongside the Taliban. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

Neal was sentenced to just over 27 years in prison in 2007 for his role in an insurance scheme.

While Schaeffer Cox was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, none of the other four Neal, Gottesfeld, Warren, and Johnson are violent offenders, unlike Hamrick, who has been imprisoned since the 1980s. In the unfinished article, Cox wrote that there are about 80 people in CMU, many of whom are jihadis.

Schaeffer Cox witnessed Neal’s murder, according to Angela Clemons, a supporter of Cox’s who spoke with him.

Cox was the leader of a militia in Alaska when, in 2012, he was convicted of conspiracy to murder federal employees including law enforcement.

In 2017, an appeals court threw out some of his conviction and in November 2019, a judge reduced his sentence.

He’s now scheduled to be released in 2024.

Clemons said Cox told her a handful of the inmates at the CMU are non-jihadis, inmates he referred to as “balancers.”

“They’re the excuse,” Cox said in the unfinished article, referring to the group of convicted jihadi fighters, “but we’re the real reason.”

Both Cox and Gottesfeld have described the CMU as a “black site” prison because communication is significantly restricted. Dana Gottesfeld said she had not heard at all from her husband since April 2019. Clemons said since Cox has been in the CMU she speaks to him once for fifteen minutes per week.

In a phone conversation Cox had with Dana Gottesfeld, while Cox was temporarily in a county jail, Cox said that the overwhelming number of prisoners at the CMU are jihadis, who are kept along with other prisoners he called “balancers” who were there temporarily, and prisoners like he and Marty Gottesfeld, who consider themselves political prisoners.

From Supermax to CMU

According to an article in the Chicago Reader, while in prison serving a sentence for threatening President Reagan, Hamrick not only threatened the life of President Clinton, he was also convicted of building firebombs.

“In February federal prison inmate Rodney Curtis Hamrick, 29, was charged with threatening President Clinton’s life. Hamrick was convicted in the mid-1980s for writing bad checks and was given a modest sentence,” the Chicago Reader noted in in 1995, “Since then he’s had about 50 years added for threatening President Reagan, the judge who sentenced him, and his prosecutors, and for building five small firebombs while in prison and mailing two of them to the prosecutors.”

In 2007, Hamrick was featured in an article about the supermax prison in Colorado, ADX Florence. (RELATED: CESAL: I’m Jealous Of Inmates On Death Row — Here’s Why)

“G-Unit is one of four ‘general population’ units. Each has 64 inmates. These include Rodney Curtis Hamrick, who peered through the window of the steel door of a solitary exercise pen,” the article noted, “He wore prison-issue horn-rimmed glasses and a bushy brown beard. ‘Oh, you know me,’ he said.”

“In 2005, while incarcerated at Leavenworth in Kansas, Hamrick managed to mail a letter bomb to the federal appeals court in Richmond. For this he landed in ADX Florence, in a cell 12 feet by 7 feet 4 inches, slightly larger than the Montana cabin where Kaczynski hid out.”

The supermax prison in Colorado is designed for the worst and most dangerous prisoners.

“The worst of the worst in America’s vast prison network are delivered to ADX, the ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies,’ in buses, special vehicles, even Black Hawk helicopters,” a CNN article from 2015 stated.

Its inmates include terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui, Ramzi Yousef, Richard Reid, and Muhammad Salameh. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Robert Hanssen, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who sold thousands of classified documents to Soviet and Russian intelligence are also housed there.

Hamrick is also listed as being housed in the supermax, according to current U.S. Bureau of Prisons records.

In 2016, according to a legal filing, he was moved to the CMU. (RELATED: Tsarnaev Could Await Death In A Place That’s ‘Pretty Close’ To Hell)

“On September 12, 2016 — two weeks after Hamrick filed this action — the Bureau of Prisons transferred him to the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana (FCI Terre Haute). On January 13, 2017, FCI Terre Haute moved Hamrick into the CMU at that location,” the filing stated. “Hamrick remains in the CMU. Now that Hamrick is no longer at USP Marion, the Government has moved to dismiss Hamrick’s claims against True — the official capacity defendant — as moot.”

Communication Lockdown at CMU

The CMU has received criticism from human rights groups because of restrictions on communications. There are two CMU prisons in the U.S., this one in Terre Haute and one in Indiana. They were created in 2006 as part of the Bush administration’s war on terror, in response to criticism that they hadn’t monitored the communications of terrorists closely enough. All this raises the question of why a hacktivist, let alone an insurance scammer, would end up in a unit designed to contain jihadis.

“Unlike other BOP prisoners, individuals detained in the CMUs are completely banned from any physical contact with visiting family members and friends,” the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in 2010. “Other types of communication are also severely limited, including interactions with non-CMU prisoners and phone calls with friends and family members.”

“Individuals detained in the CMUs receive no meaningful explanation for their transfer to the unit or for the extraordinary communications restrictions to which they are subjected. Upon designation to the unit, there is no meaningful review or appeal process that allows CMU prisoners to be transferred back to general population.” (RELATED: John Walker Lindh seeks Ind. prison prayer ruling)

Dana Gottesfeld, Marty Gottesfeld’s wife, said she has had no communication with her husband since April 2019.

Clemons said Cox spent several years in the CMU before being moved to another facility temporarily in 2019; she said he was moved back to the CMU in December 2019.

The USBOP declined to confirm if Hamrick was suspected of murdering Neal or answer why he was moved to the CMU.

“Based on the need to ensure safety and security in our institutions and in accordance with privacy concerns,” the USBOP told the Daily Caller in a statement, “the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not comment on investigations of inmate deaths nor do we discuss whether a specific inmate is the subject of an investigation or has a disciplinary history.”

“We want to emphasize however that the safety of staff, inmates, and the public is the highest priority for the BOP. We make every effort to ensure the physical safety of inmates confined to our facilities through a controlled environment that is secure and humane. Allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action is taken if such allegations are proven true, including the possibility of referral for criminal prosecution when appropriate.”

Clemons and Dana Gottesfeld said Cox and Marty Gottesfeld believe they are political prisoners, placed at the CMU for speaking out; as such, while non-violent themselves, they are placed with some of the most violent and dangerous criminals in the federal prison system.