Official: Contraband drugs probed in 4 Kansas inmate deaths

April 30, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ corrections secretary said Tuesday that officials believe contraband drugs could be involved in the recent deaths of four inmates at three prisons but are awaiting autopsy and lab results to determine the substances.

Roger Werholtz said possibilities include methamphetamines, cocaine, or K2, a synthetic mixture of industrial chemicals intended to mimic the effects of THC, the naturally occurring active compound found in marijuana. The four inmates have died since Friday.

“Right now, we’re really dealing with an unknown,” Werholtz said.

Ethen Thornton, an inmate at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, died Friday morning at a hospital. Later that afternoon, Quinn Martin, an inmate at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility, died at a hospital. The following day, Kendrick Gracey died at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Then on Monday, Jeremy Waller died at the Hutchinson facility.

The Kansas Department of Corrections said in a news release that the deaths are under investigation by the corrections department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.