Police: Utah man who died in custody filled gel capsules with poison to avoid jail

A booking photo of Rex Iverson from 2014. Image courtesy Box Elder County Sheriff's Office.

A booking photo of Rex Iverson from 2014. Image courtesy Box Elder County Sheriff's Office.

BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah — Investigators have released their findings in the death of a man who died in the Box Elder County Jail in January, saying it appears the man had pre-filled gel capsules with poison to take his own life rather than spend time behind bars.

Rex Iverson was arrested in Tremonton City January 23 on an outstanding warrant, and he was in a holding cell after officers asked if he would be able to post bail.

An officer left and returned about a half an hour later and found Iverson unresponsive. Life-saving efforts attempted upon discovering Iverson were not successful.

According to a press release issued Wednesday by the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, police investigated rumors that Iverson had told several people he would take poison, specifically cyanide, if he was arrested.

The man told those people he’d rather take his own life than go to jail, and those sources were, “adamant that Mr. Iverson had access to cyanide poison through past resources.”

Police searched Iveron’s residence after obtaining permission and found a bottle with a hand-written label stating “sodium cyanide” as well as unused and empty gel capsules. After an analysis, it was determined the bottle actually contained strychnine poison.

After reporting these findings to the State Medical Examiner, further toxicology testing was undertaken and the ME told police the conclusion is that Iverson died of strychnine poisoning and the manner of his death was suicide.

The press release states that police believe Iverson took an unknown but fatal amount of strychnine, which was likely contained in gel capsules.

“The gel capsules were small enough that they would likely be undetected in any form of pat down search, which was done multiple times, and could be secreted on Mr. Iverson’s person very easily,” the press release states. “It was determined that unless an officer was physically watching Mr. Iverson every second from the time he was placed under arrest, he could have ingested the poison at any time.”

Police believe Iverson had determined to take his own life should he be arrested and had taken steps to enable him to do so even while in custody. The release states investigators determined the police and jail staff involved followed standard procedures during the arrest and holding of Iverson.

Fox 13 News does not generally report on incidents of apparent suicide unless there is a broader impact to the public, such as in the case of an individual who dies while in custody.