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Richmond inmate died of heroin overdose, autopsy finds

Posted at 4:19 PM, Sep 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-08 23:36:45-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Shawn Samuel, Jr., a Richmond inmate who died in the custody of law enforcement, died of a heroin overdose, the Medical Examiner’s Office and Richmond Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday. Samuel was one of three inmates who died at the Richmond Justice Center over one week in July.

Samuel Jr., 22, was found unresponsive in his jail cell during a routine check at 3:16 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15, the Sheriff's Office said.

Shawn Samuel, Jr. (PHOTO: Richmond City Sheriff's Office)

Shawn Samuel, Jr. (PHOTO: Richmond City Sheriff's Office)

"Life-saving attempts made by jail medical contract personnel and EMS technicians were not successful," a Sheriff's Office spokesman said. "[Samuel] was pronounced dead at 3:53 a.m. There were no signs of foul play, and standard procedure called for a dual investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the Richmond Police Department to be initiated."

Investigators believe a former inmate smuggled the drugs into the jail.

"The investigation into this matter is ongoing. However, at this time we have identified a person of interest – a former inmate who is suspected of concealing and transporting contraband into the jail and passing it along to Mr. Samuel. We are already working with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and are prepared to follow this case wherever it leads," Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody said.

Earlier this summer, the Office of the Medical Examiner ruled inmate Javon Antoine Morris died of natural causes. Final Autopsy and toxicology reports for inmate Zachary E. Tuggle remain pending.