Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Death at Northwest State Correctional Facility is the 10th fatality at a Vermont prison this year

A cement sign reading "Northwest State Correctional Facility."
Jeffrey Nichols, 35, died Sunday morning at Northwest State Correctional Facility. State police are investigating the incident, but say preliminary information indicates it wasn’t suspicious.

A 35-year old man held at the state prison in St. Albans for just over a day died Sunday morning, the Department of Corrections said. It’s the tenth fatality this year among Vermont's incarcerated population.

Jeffrey Nichols, of Sheldon, was lodged at the prison on Saturday at 3:13 a.m. on a charge of second degree aggravated domestic assault committed in the presence of a child, according to state police. About 27 hours later, at 6:32 a.m. on Sunday, prison staff found Nichols unresponsive in a cell in the booking area of Northwest, according to a press release from Vermont State Police.

Prison staff began life-saving measures, including CPR and “multiple administrations” of the overdose reversing drug Narcan, DOC said in a press release on Monday.

More from Vermont Public: Vermont State Police investigate death at St. Albans state prison

Nichols was pronounced dead at 6:49 a.m. The incident is being investigated by state police, but VSP says preliminary information indicates the death isn’t suspicious. An autopsy, including toxicology testing, will be performed by the Chief Medical Examiner’s office.

Haley Sommer, communications director at DOC, declined to share more details about the incident, but said drugs could have been a factor.

“It’s challenging to know whether he was using substances in the community,” Sommer said in a phone interview on Monday. “Narcan was administered, so it’s not something that’s out of the question.”

There’s already been at least one overdose death at a Vermont prison this year. In July, Shawn Gardner died after taking a mix of fentanyl, xylazine and cocaine. The Chief Medical Examiner’s office ruled Gardner’s death an accident.

More from Vermont Edition: Vermont officials tackle recent rise in deaths, health concerns in prisons

DOC will conduct its own internal administrative and medical reviews, and the Defender General’s Prisoners’ Right office will also conduct an investigation — a standard procedure when someone dies in prison.

There have now been 10 deaths at Vermont prisons this year, slightly higher than last year when the state recorded nine fatalities.

Questions, comments or tips? Send me an email at


Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
Latest Stories