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Former Lake County coroner’s office employee dies from burns

Jeffrey Wells 2009. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media









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Jeffrey Wells in 2009. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet

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Updated: December 19, 2012 12:03PM



A former Lake County coroner chief deputy who recently pleaded guilty to forging prescription drug forms died Monday after he was involved in an explosion in Cedar Lake.

The Chicago Medical Examiner’s office rule Jeffrey Wells’ death a suicide after an autopsy Wednesday. He died from thermal injuries sustained from a gas explosion, according to the office.

Cedar Lake Fire Chief Todd Wilkening said officials still considered the fire at the Carriage Plaza motel as suspicious until NIPSCO finished its investigation but it looks like Wells started the fire on purpose Saturday evening.

Fire crews found four burners on and a separate fire that had been started in the room, Wilkening said.

Wells suffered substantial burns but was still able to talk to firefighters when they found him. He was taken to Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, Ill., where he died Monday afternoon.

Wells had worked as the chief deputy coroner in Lake County until 2010, when then-incoming Coroner Thomas Philpot Jr. fired him. He was later charged with obtaining a prescription containing hydrocodone by fraud. He pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced to one year of probation.



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