News & Events

Investigating Northern Utah jail deaths

April 20, 2017

Investigating jail deaths in Northern Utah

Utah has the most jail deaths per capita in the nation,
according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Weber and Davis counties are among the worst in the state, outstripping even more populous Salt Lake County in death rates, data gathered by the Standard-Examiner shows. The following story archive is the first part of a yearlong effort by the Standard-Examiner to report on the people behind the mugshots and how they died.

Stories on jail policies

Deaths in Utah's county jails support advocates' zero fatalities goal
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Utah’s county jails have elaborate policies aimed at safeguarding sick or suicidal inmates, but a spate of deaths has fostered concerns about a shaky safety net for those who go behind bars.

Jail deaths trigger levels of investigative machinery
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When someone dies behind bars in Utah, multiple investigations quickly begin. But if the inmate’s passing appears to be medically related, there’s usually no public announcement or news coverage.

New avenues sought for drug detox in Utah jails
Sunday, August 28, 2016

OGDEN — Substance abuse treatment professionals are chipping away at practices in Utah jails they say can force inmates to endure painful and dangerous cold-turkey withdrawals from narcotics addictions.

Suicide Watch: Jails work to help inmates, prevent casualties
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

OGDEN -- Sandy Grattan continues to mourn her brother who died on June 8, 2014 by hanging himself in the Weber County Jail, just a few hours after being booked in.

Utah judge OKs lawsuit over delayed defendant treatment, hospital crowding
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s system of handling mentally ill criminal defendants appears to be failing, a federal judge said in allowing a civil rights lawsuit to proceed against the state.

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Stories by jail

Scroll down to read more about this issue, or select a button below to filter our coverage by jail.

Before suicide, Davis County jail doctor denied patient's cancer diagnosis
Sunday, May 28, 2017

FARMINGTON — Tracy Velarde’s life took another wrong turn after he arrived at the Davis County Jail.

Davis County Jail suicide cases came with warning signs
Sunday, May 28, 2017

FARMINGTON — Two of three Davis County Jail inmates who died by hanging during an 8-week period in 2016 exhibited odd behavior in the days leading up to their deaths, according to investigative reports.

Weber detectives: Davis jail staff tainted crime scene after inmate's death
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

FARMINGTON — Potential evidence was destroyed in the Davis County Jail before Weber County detectives could examine the scenes where an inmate who died of a torn spleen was injured and treated, investigative reports show.

Family still has questions about homeless man's December death in Weber jail
Friday, April 28, 2017

OGDEN — Isaura Martinez wonders why her son didn’t call. “My son always talked to me and told me everything, good or bad things.” Martinez said Wednesday, April 26.

Davis jail death deemed natural, despite accusation woman wasn't given medicine
Friday, April 21, 2017

FARMINGTON — Kara Noakes, her family and her friends were worried about her going without prescription medications after she was arrested on a traffic warrant and taken to the Davis County Jail June 21, 2016.

Homeless man died in Weber jail in late 2016 - 23rd in-custody death since 2009
Friday, April 14, 2017

OGDEN — On Dec. 4, 2016, Jesus Gomez-Martinez walked into traffic on Wall Avenue after telling staff at the Lantern House homeless shelter that he was going to kill himself.

Box Elder man's suicide by poison, death in jail leaves unresolved questions
Sunday, March 26, 2017

BRIGHAM CITY — A man who died while awaiting booking in the Box Elder County Jail had ingested more than 10 times the amount of strychnine necessary to kill a person, investigative reports show.

Ogden inmate not given IV, died of dehydration in Weber jail, attorney says
Sunday, February 19, 2017

OGDEN — Supporting a $300-a-day heroin habit got too expensive for Marion Herrera. Police arrested the 40-year-old Ogden woman on a check forgery allegation, and she died 3 ½ days later while withdrawing from the street drug in the Weber County Jail.

Heather Ashton Miller

Autopsy: Woman died of split spleen, blunt-force trauma in Davis jail
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

FARMINGTON — A woman arrested on drug possession charges died of a spleen split nearly in half by blunt-force trauma suffered at the Davis County Jail, an autopsy report says.

Police investigating woman's death after 41 hour stay in Davis jail
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

FARMINGTON — Authorities are investigating the death of a woman who died in a hospital after being taken by ambulance from the Davis County Jail four days before Christmas, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Man who died in Box Elder jail was there for not paying a debt
Monday, February 15, 2016

BRIGHAM CITY — Rex Iverson died in a jail cell shortly after he was taken into custody, but he wasn’t there for a criminal act..

After death in Davis County Jail, family alleges inmate wasn't given medication
Monday, June 27, 2016

SUNSET — After their mother died in Davis County Jail last week, three adult siblings have accused the jail of failing to provide the 46-year-old woman with blood pressure medication she needed.

Investigator: No mistreatment or unfair prosecution against Matthew Stewart
Friday, March 28, 2014

OGDEN — An independent review has concluded there were no indications of mistreatment by jail staff or unduly biased adjudication against Matthew David Stewart leading up to the murder suspect’s May 24, 2013 suicide by hanging.

Ogden man's death in prison leaves troubling questions for 'devastated' family
Thursday, March 17, 2016

OGDEN — One day after a Utah State Prison inmate from Ogden died after a reported attack by another prisoner, his defense attorney called his death “a tragedy” and said his family is waiting for answers.

Timeline: The last days of Bosnian immigrant Amra Miletic
Monday, July 11, 2016

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigated the death of immigration detainee Amra Miletic, 47, who died March 20, 2011 after a 47-day stay at the Weber County Jail.

Man who admitted to killing a woman found dead in his cell
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

OGDEN --- The attorney for the man accused of murdering a Washington Terrace woman for money said he is not shocked to hear about his client’s death in jail.

Box Elder jail inmate's death raises concerns for justice system, not foul play
Tuesday, February 23 2016

BRIGHAM CITY — The death in jail of a Bear River City man who ignored court orders to pay an ambulance bill is drawing more attention from civil rights groups, which say they see American justice returning to a type of debtors’ prison environment.

AG's Davis jail death investigation reveals possible missteps, lack of urgency
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

FARMINGTON — Paramedics complained they were denied rapid access to an inmate who lay critically injured in the Davis County Jail and later died, an investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office discovered.

Brother: Mentally ill man 'snapped' in Weber jail, harmed himself
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

OGDEN — A Disability Law Center attorney on Monday, April 17, challenged assertions that a jail inmate who died after a paralyzing fall had been faking mental illness.

Man suspected of faking mental illness in Weber jail before paralysis, death
Thursday, April 13, 2017

OGDEN — Matthew Ryan Hall, who was paralyzed after falling in a Weber County Jail cell, refused to take medication or participate in mental illness treatment prior to injuring himself, court records say.

Utah AG: No criminal charges filed in woman's Davis County jail death
Friday, April 28, 2017

FARMINGTON — The Utah Attorney General’s Office said Friday no criminal charges will be filed in the death of Heather Ashton Miller, whose spleen was nearly torn in half by blunt forced trauma in a reported accidental fall at the Davis County Jail on Dec. 21, 2016.

Ambulance report shows Davis inmate was unresponsive when rescuers arrived
Saturday, March 11, 2017

FARMINGTON — A woman who died of a torn spleen apparently suffered in the Davis County Jail was medically unresponsive when Farmington City rescuers arrived, and she suffered a cardiac arrest en route to an Ogden hospital, an ambulance report shows.

Weber County jail report details some medical actions hours before fatality
Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Standard-Examiner received documents related to the investigation of Marion Herrera’s death through a Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA) request. 

Claim filed over woman's death in Weber County Jail
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

OGDEN — An attorney has filed notice of intent to sue Weber County over the death of a 40-year-old jail inmate who sheriff’s officials said was in heroin withdrawal.

County prosecutor asks Utah Attorney General to investigate Davis jail death
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

FARMINGTON — Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Wednesday he has asked the Utah Attorney General’s Office to get involved in the investigation into the December 2016 death of a 28-year-old woman in the county jail.

Widow of Trece gang member killed in prison sues state for $20M
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — The widow of an Ogden man stabbed and beaten to death at the Utah State Prison has filed a $20 million suit against the state Department of Corrections, saying guards ignored warnings the victim was in danger from members of a rival gang.

Woman found dead in Weber County Jail; internal investigation ongoing
Thursday, June 16, 2016

OGDEN — Deputies are investigating after a woman booked into the Weber County Jail was found dead last month. Marion Herrera, 41, was booked into the Weber County Jail on May 18 on suspicion of forgery and theft, Weber County Sheriff’s Lt. Lane Findlay said.

Case remains open in January 2016 Box Elder County jail death
Thursday, June 02, 2016

BRIGHAM CITY — The death of a Bear River City man remains under investigation four months after he was found unresponsive in a Box Elder County jail cell.

Immigrant's death puts agencies at odds over Weber jail's medical care handling
Monday, July 11, 2016

OGDEN — Bosnian Amra Miletic was one of the last immigration detainees to be housed in the Weber County Jail. Miletic died in a holding cell March 20, 2011. “You people don’t know what you are doing,” she had told a nurse two days earlier. Less than an hour before she died, she grabbed a nurse’s hand and said, “I’m dying.”

Flint Harrison found dead at Davis County Jail, police say
Monday, July 25, 2016

DAVIS COUNTY — After being arrested in connection with the kidnapping of five women and the murder of a UTA worker, Flint Harrison was found dead at Davis County Jail on Monday morning, July 25.

Ogden murder suspect found dead in jail cell
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

OGDEN— Jeffrey Dean White, 43, charged with murdering his girlfriend, was found dead late Wednesday night in his cell at the Weber County Jail.

Many question Ogden woman's treatment at prison where she died
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NORTH OGDEN — The family of an inmate found dead in her cell in Utah State Prison in Draper is still receiving letters from inmates questioning how Priscilla Chavez was treated by correctional officials.

Father to Weber County Commission: Jail failed Stewart, is inhumane
Thursday, March 6, 2014

OGDEN — Matthew David Stewart’s father told the Weber County Commission on Tuesday that the jail failed to protect his son and ignored his complaints about conditions, leading to the murder suspect’s death by hanging May 24.