North Carolina judge died of fentanyl and heroin intoxication, autopsy reveals

Posted at 10:54 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 22:54:11-04

HIGH POINT, N.C. — An autopsy shed new light on the death of Guilford County's chief district court judge.

Tom Jarrell died at 56 years old on Aug. 3.

According to the autopsy released Thursday, Jarrell's official cause of death was "fentanyl and heroin intoxication."

The judge was reportedly found unresponsive on the bedroom floor of his home during a welfare check.

Law enforcement found a plastic baggie with a powder substance in his pocket, as well as a pocket knife and a piece of paper containing a powder substance in the bathroom.

His death came after 20 years as a district court judge. He began serving as the chief district court judge three years ago.

Before becoming a judge, Jarrell was an attorney in his hometown of High Point and an assistant to the district attorney.

"Our family is still reeling from Tom’s sudden death.  It has left a huge void in all our lives and in the community he loved," said Cindy Jarrell, his wife. "We have not had an opportunity to review the autopsy, but nothing it can tell us will bring him back or alter our deep love and affection for him."

High Point Police Chief Kenneth Shultz released the following statement Thursday night:

“With the medical examiner’s confirmation today that Judge Tom Jarrell died from an opioid-related overdose, the High Point Police Department remains committed to working with our law enforcement, health and service partners to address opioid abuse through enforcement, prevention and treatment efforts. From January 1 to October 9, 2019, the High Point Police Department has responded to 209 overdose calls and there have been 18 deaths. Today’s news is another reminder that there is a lot of work left to do on this societal issue.”