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

Stories by jail

Select a button below to filter our coverage by jail.

$2M death claim filed against Davis jail over allegedly withheld medications
Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018

FARMINGTON —Davis County is facing a $2 million wrongful-death claim over allegations that the county jail deprived a woman of life-sustaining prescription medications after she was booked on a traffic-related offense.

Lawsuit: Traumatic death in Davis jail result of civil rights violation
Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY —A federal lawsuit alleges the Davis County Jail negligently handled the care of a woman who died of a massive blunt-force spleen injury several hours after she fell from a cell bunk.

Internal affairs report: After jail death, officer complained of 'snitch'
Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017

FARMINGTON — A Davis County Jail officer complained about a “snitch” alerting the county attorney to the death of an inmate who suffered a ruptured spleen in her cell Dec. 21, according to an internal affairs report.

A year after Layton man's hanging death in Davis jail, family seeks answers
Friday, Aug. 11, 2017

FARMINGTON — The pain struck so deep, she couldn’t drive through Farmington again for weeks. And not until now, nearly a year later, has she summoned the emotional strength to start asking questions about what happened to her brother.

Davis County family questions justice system in son's jail death
Friday, June 23, 2017

FARMINGTON —They found Dominic Landreth wandering around a Layton business parking lot, incoherent and smelling of marijuana. It was the beginning of the end for the 19-year-old. He was booked into the Davis County Jail that morning of April 19, 2016, and did not leave alive.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Police investigate death of man in Davis jail's booking area
Friday, Jan. 12, 2018

FARMINGTON —Police are investigating the death of a 33-year-old man who collapsed in the Davis County Jail’s booking area on Dec. 14, 2017, law enforcement officials say.

Davis jail death plaintiff blasts secrecy and 'callousness'
Friday, Jan. 5, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY —Their lawsuit targets only the Davis County Jail, but Cynthia Farnham-Stella and her attorneys hope it will catalyze improvements to prevent inmate deaths throughout Utah.

Davis jail death investigation still open 16 months later due to autopsy backlog
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

FARMINGTON — Almost 16 months after Dominic Landreth died in the Davis County Jail, investigators still have not closed the case.

Jail death victim's mother campaigns for system changes
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The criminal investigations into her daughter’s death are over, but Cynthia Farnham-Stella is covering new ground in her search for justice.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Do you have a story to share about jail deaths in Utah? Contact us.
Newsroom main: (801) 625-4225 • cityed@standard.net
Or contact our reporter
Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net Report a jail death:

State law does not require jails to report an in-custody death to the public. Sometimes jails choose to send out press releases, but that's not typically the case. If you know someone who has died in a Utah jail, contact the Standard-Examiner at cityed@standard.net with a name of the deceased and the name of the jail where they were in custody.

Requesting an autopsy:
An autopsy report is an official record of a medical examiner's findings during a post-mortem examination. That typically includes information on cause of death and details about the condition of the body as it relates to the factors around death.

In Utah, an autopsy report can only be released to immediate family members and legal representatives. The report is not automatically released to family — it needs to be requested and approved by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.

An Immediate family member is defined as a "surviving spouse, child, natural or adoptive parent, any full or half sibling, and any child aged 18 or older," according to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner website. There is no time limit to when a record can be requested.