Inmate died of drug overdose

Coroner says meth dosage unusually high in woman’s toxicology report

A Bartholomew County Jail inmate who was found dead in her cell last month died of a methamphetamine overdose.

Angela L. Blair, 42, died Oct. 7 in the jail from an overdose that involved one of the largest amounts of methamphetamine Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said he has ever seen in a toxicology report.

The Elizabethtown woman also had heart-related issues that contributed to her death, Nolting said.

“Now that we know drugs were involved, this will certainly become a key part of the investigation,” said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, public information officer for the Indiana State Police post in Versailles.

The Indiana State Police is investigating the death and will be turning its results over to the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said.

“We expect the investigation to be completed soon and we will be more than happy to answer questions after the state police complete their investigation,” Myers said. “The community has a right to know what happened.”

But during Blair’s autopsy, it was suspected that drugs were the cause of her death, said Bartholomew County Council member Jorge Morales, who witnessed the postmortem examination.

“It was my understanding they found the jar that had the drugs in it,” Morales said.

Morales said he was told another female inmate who had contact with Blair was able to smuggle the jar into the jail.

The second female inmate was not mentioned in previous State Police news releases regarding the case, but such details will normally be kept confidential by detectives until they finish their investigation, Wheeles said.

“I’m sure there are ways of getting drugs into a jail we know of — and probably ways we don’t know,” he said.

A second inmate also had suffered an overdose the night of Oct. 7, but was revived in the emergency room at Columbus Regional Hospital, Morales said.

Attending the autopsy, as well as taking jail tours and riding with patrolling deputies, were missions undertaken by Morales to gain better insight into the work of county employees prior to last month’s vote to raise a local income tax, the councilman said.

If state police detectives believe they already know how the methamphetamine got into the jail, their investigation could wrap up quickly with a report sent to County Prosecutor Bill Nash, Wheeles said.

But if not, additional interviews with inmates and staff can be expected, which would prolong the length of the investigation, he said.

Blair had been placed in jail after charges of possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a syringe were filed against her in December for an incident that occurred two months earlier.

After being given a suspended two-year sentence May 22, Blair was jailed again a few weeks later on a local warrant charging her with probation violations.

On Aug. 14, Bartholomew Circuit Judge Kelly Benjamin determined Blair had used methamphetamine while on probation, as well as skipping out from a reporting program, records state.

Consequentially, she was ordered to spend the remaining time of her 388-day sentence in jail.

On the night of Oct. 8, she collapsed just after jail staff arrived at her cell to give her medical attention, Wheeles said.

Although emergency treatment was provided and an ambulance summoned, attempts to revive the unresponsive Blair were unsuccessful, he said.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.