Patrick McKenna, infamous Nevada death row inmate, dies at 74

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada’s most infamous death row inmate, Patrick McKenna, has died at 74.

He has been called “Nevada’s most dangerous inmate.”

He strangled and killed his cellmate in the Clark County jail in 1979 and had been on death row since 1980. He was sentenced to four life terms in addition to the death sentence.

The I-Team’s George Knapp provided an in-depth look at McKenna in “Emperor of Death Row,” the story of his life behind bars and before prison.

Police and prosecutors have treated him as if he were Hannibal Lecter. He’s a killer, an enforcer and an escape artist.

McKenna didn’t shy away from accepting the consequences of his actions.

“I don’t believe in a victim defense. I don’t believe in whining about my situation or putting the blame on other people, be it family members, a counselor in a reform school who beat me. Maybe I fell down and hurt myself one day. So what? Life is a struggle,” he said.

Patrick McKenna (Nevada Department of Corrections)

The Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) reports that McKenna, was pronounced dead at Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas on Monday, April 19.

McKenna was an inmate at High Desert State Prison, and was sentenced to death for first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and use of a deadly weapon.

ALSO SEE: One of the nation’s most dangerous men dies on death row

An autopsy has been requested, according to NDOC. McKenna’s cause of death has not been released.

In 1979 McKenna masterminded the longest and most intense siege ever seen in Nevada. 

On the morning of August 25, 1979, two inmates inside the city hall jail annex overpowered an officer, seized his key, and got an accomplice to help them steal weapons from the gun locker.

The trio tried to escape while wearing guards’ clothes, but detectives stopped them. Then a standoff began.

An army of police surrounded the jail where inmates tried to negotiate a deal using former KLAS-TV News Director Bob Stoldal as the middleman. Around midnight, the three ringleaders turned on each other and started shooting.

Two of the inmates ended up dead.

McKenna survived and held police at bay for another two days before finally surrendering.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Assembly voted 26-16 to abolish the death penalty and reduce all current death sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The proposal, which is retroactive, would still need to be passed in the Nevada Senate and be signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

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