Sheffield man accused of supplying fentanyl that killed another inmate

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Authorities say a Sheffield man has been charged in connection with the death of an inmate at the Lauderdale County Jail in February.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Joe Hamilton told News 19 that on March 20, officers filed an indictment against 27-year-old Russell Lyn Reatherford of Sheffield for felony manslaughter, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, and promotion of contraband in prison in the second degree.

Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office investigators presented evidence to a grand jury, which Hamilton says shows Reatherford supplied 37-year-old inmate Harley James Coyer with a lethal amount of fentanyl.

Russell Lyn Reatherford (Photo: Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office)

Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office corrections officers were alerted by other inmates that a man was unresponsive in his cell on February 14, around 7:00 pm. That man was identified as Coyer. Authorities said life-saving measures were started immediately, but Coyer could not be revived and was pronounced dead by the Lauderdale County coroner.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Joe Hamilton told News 19 that the incident likely occurred after 5:00 p.m., which is the last time deputies saw Coyer.

Coyer had been in the Lauderdale County Detention Center since May 24, 2022. He was arrested on various charges including attempted eluding, resisting arrest, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

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Reatherford was already incarcerated at the Lauderdale County Detention Center and remains there at this time, the sheriff said.


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