News Releases

Posted on: April 28, 2023

Arrestee Death

News Release

A Manhattan man passed away this morning following an arrest and confinement in the Riley County Jail.

Joseph Varvel, 25, was detained on April 28, 2023, around 1:45 a.m. in the 300 block of N. 14th Street in Manhattan for suspicious activity. While speaking with officers, he ran and was later found in possession of cocaine. Officers on scene called for Riley County EMS (RCEMS) assistance at 1:50 a.m. after Varvel complained of breathing issues while in custody. RCEMS arrived on scene at 1:56 a.m. and cleared Varvel at 2:05 a.m.

Officers then arrested Varvel on possession of cocaine, possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, and interference with LEO and transported him to the Riley County Jail. RCEMS was called at 3:32 a.m. when Varvel became physically ill. His condition quickly deteriorated and Corrections Officers began lifesaving measures. RCEMS arrived at 3:41 a.m. and continued lifesaving measures. RCEMS then transported Varvel to Via Christi in Manhattan at 4:03 a.m. where he arrived at 4:12 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:47 a.m.

Per state statute, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) will be the lead agency investigating the death. An autopsy will be conducted.

“Our hearts go out to Mr. Varvel’s family and friends,” RCPD Director Brian Peete said. “This agency holds itself to the highest levels of integrity and accountability and will continue to be transparent and work with the KBI through their analysis of this case. I commend our Corrections staff and EMS who did everything in their power to help Mr. Varvel during this tragic situation.”

Any additional questions should be directed to Melissa Underwood, Communications Director with the KBI at (785) 296-8283.

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