Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Tom Jarrell died from “fentanyl and heroin intoxication,” what most people call a drug overdose, according to the autopsy report released by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released Thursday, Oct. 17.
Jarrell’s death on Aug. 3 at age 56 sent shockwaves through the community, and the release of the autopsy report has as well.
According to the report, after Jarrell was found unresponsive on his bedroom floor, law enforcement found a plastic baggie with a powdered substance in his pocket and more powdered substance on a piece of paper in the bathroom, along with a pocketknife.
According to the autopsy report, there was also a possible needle puncture in his right arm.
Jarrell also had caffeine, alcohol and high blood pressure medicine in his system, according to the report.
Jarrell’s wife, Cindy Jarrell, released a statement Thursday stating, “Our family is still reeling from Tom’s sudden death. It has left a huge void in all our lives and in the community he loved. We have not had an opportunity to review the autopsy, but nothing it can tell us will bring him back or alter our deep love and affection for him.”
Jarrell had been a Guilford County District Court judge since 1999, and chief District Court judge since 2016. He was a graduate of Guilford College and Campbell University School of Law. Before being appointed to the District Court bench by Gov. Jim Hunt, Jarrell was a Guilford County assistant district attorney, and prior to that had been in private practice in High Point.
Jarrell was extremely active in his profession and in his community. As chief District Court judge he established the first DWI Traffic Court in the state and he played a major role in creating the Family Justice Center in High Point. He was also instrumental in creating Street Safe, a teen driving program where law-enforcement officers teach behind the wheel training to young drivers.