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Ohio police chief dies from fentanyl overdose; town’s 3rd chief in last year

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Marc Kovac
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

NEWARK — The short-time police chief for the village of Kirkersville died of an accidental drug overdose in May, according to an autopsy report released Friday afternoon.

The Franklin County Coroner’s Office determined that James Hughes Jr., 35 and on the job for about two months, had fentanyl in his system when he was found in the bathroom of his Reynoldsburg residence in late May.

Kirkersville Police Chief James Hughes.
The drug, a synthetic painkiller often mixed with heroin, has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths in the state in recent years.

There were two syringes found near Hughes, according to the autopsy report. One revealed no drugs, but the other tested positive for fentanyl. A plastic sandwich bag was positive for cocaine.

The cause of death was noted as “acute intoxication by fentanyl.”

Hughes was the third police chief in a year in Kirkersville, a tiny village in southwestern Licking County.

Chief Eric DiSario was shot and killed in May 2017 after responding to a call of a gunman and hostages. The ex-boyfriend of a woman who worked at a Kirkersville nursing home also killed two women and himself in the incident.

Jeff Finley, who was hired as the next village police chief, resigned after nearly six months on the job, citing ongoing disagreements with the village mayor.

A replacement for Hughes has not yet been named.

mkovac@dispatch.com

@OhioCapitalBlog

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©2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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