Correctional Officer James P. Zeiger, 43, was the victim of an inexplicable fatal attack at 9:00 AM on January 11, 1973, by Stateville CC inmate, Paul Goffman, who remains in custody serving a 75 - 150 year sentence consecutive to the four year term for Robbery which caused his incarceration. A correctional officer for three years, Zeiger was on one of the upper galleries in B House, where inmates were being released from their cells. The inmate produced a shank and attacked Zeiger, stabbing him eight times, once through the heart, and then pushed the officer over the railing to the floor below where Zeiger suffered a fractured skull. The attack happened so fast that another officer on the gallery could not respond quickly enough to aid Zeiger.
The officer's union called for reinstatement of the death penalty as a means of deterring similar attacks. Governor Dan Walker stated: "The tragic and inexcusable killing of guard James P. Zeiger at Stateville Penitentiary this morning is a grim reminder of the risks that are run every day by the guards in our penal institutions." Walker names Joe Coughlin Acting Director that day and told him to conduct the investigation.
A Korean War veteran, Zeiger was survived by his wife, Lucille, who recently retired from the IDOC, and eight children, one of whom works at Stateville.