Polk Correctional Institution inmate dies after setting cell on fire

BUTNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- State authorities are investigating the death of a Polk Correctional Institution inmate who set his cell on fire Friday afternoon.

41-year-old Freddie Pickett set fire to his cell Friday at 3:30 p.m., NC Department of Public Safety officials said. The fire was contained to the one cell and was extinguished.

Pickett was taken to a local medical facility where he was pronounced dead. No other inmates or staff were injured.

He had been convicted of second-degree murder in 1997 and was scheduled to be released in February 2026.

DPS, local law enforcement and fire officials are investigating the incident.
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