Heroin suspected in inmate death

By Sheryl Roadcap - sroadcap@sidneydailynews

SIDNEY — A heroin overdose is the suspected cause of the death of a Shelby County Jail inmate this week.

The investigation into the death of Jacob Martin Lewis, 28, of Sidney, is ongoing. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office suspects a heroin overdose.

Shelby County Chief Deputy Jim Fry said Lewis died, Wednesday, Feb. 15, around 5:30 a.m., in his cell.

Fry said according to the autopsy, the coroner “could not determine Lewis’s cause of death, which leads one to believe it was something other than natural causes.” He said the next step in the process is a toxicology report, that currently takes six to eight weeks to get, because 12 other autopsy reports are in the queue ahead of the Shelby County request. The sheriff’s office requested that Lewis’s report be expedited to the top of the queue, hoping for results as soon as possible.

“Once we get the toxicology report back, to know what Jacob died from, we will proceed accordingly,” Fry said. “(We will) either present information to the prosecutor — and he will make a determination — or continue the investigation.”

It is not known how Lewis might have acquired illegal drugs while he was incarcerated.

“Even though we are doing everything we can possibly legally do, such as strip searches, where (inmates) must squat and cough — if a (corrections officer) suspects something is hidden, they will make them do it again — we have caught people bringing in items anally and vaginally,” Fry said.

A needle was not found at the scene, but Fry said in the past, they have caught female inmates trying to smuggle needles into jail vaginally. When asked why the sheriff’s office suspects specifically heroin, he said it could be heroin or some other drug, but they do not know at this time.

According to Shelby County Sheriff John R. Lenhart’s press release, once Lewis was found not breathing, the sheriff’s office staff immediately began life-saving measures and Sidney Rescue was dispatched to the scene. Lewis was pronounced dead by Sidney Rescue and Shelby County Assistant Coroner Dr. Scott Roddy was called to the scene.

Lewis was booked into the jail, Jan. 30, on one count of trafficking in a counterfeit controlled substance, a fifth-degree felony.


By Sheryl Roadcap


Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.