AUGUSTA — An investigation into the death of an inmate Tuesday at the Kennebec County jail is pointing to a drug overdose, according to Sheriff Randall Liberty.

Nicholas Michael Powell, 22, was found dead in his two-bed room in the trusty area of the Augusta jail.

Liberty said an autopsy conducted Tuesday at the Office of the State Medical Examiner indicated no physical problems. Results of toxicology tests are pending.

“Our investigation here also points to an overdose,” said Liberty. He said a number of inmates have been interviewed about the circumstances.

“It’s a family and a community tragedy for a 22-year-old to pass away in these circumstances,” Liberty said Wednesday. “It may be another indication of the increasing opiate abuse problem in this area.”

Powell had passed a drug screening test taken 2 p.m. Monday afternoon at the jail. A successful result is necessary to be permitted to work outside the jail, and trusties earn a day off a sentence for each two days worked.


Liberty said Powell appeared to be sleeping during the 4 a.m. check. But when his cell was unlocked at 4:50 a.m. to begin his work as a trusty in the kitchen, he didn’t wake up.

Court and jail records show that Powell was serving a nine-month sentence for violating probation on a domestic-violence assault conviction. He had come into the jail in Augusta in September.

Powell’s most recent address was in Lewiston, but his sister, Codie Powell Jones, 24, who lives in Lewiston, said he grew up in Waterville and Oakland, attending both Waterville and Messalonskee high schools.

She said Powell had been living and working in Colorado, and he had returned to Maine to take care of his legal responsibilities so he could arrange to see his daughter, now 10 months old.

Powell has three sisters, and his parents live in Winslow and Fairfield.

Jones described her brother as her best friend.


“He liked to make people laugh,” she said. “He was on the go all the time. There was never a dull moment. He was always singing a song. His passions in life were music and looking pretty. The girls all loved him.”

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Wheeler Funeral Home of Oakland.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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