36-year-old woman at support site for homeless died from drugs and alcohol, autopsy says

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

A memorial to Ashley Sawyer, 36, hangs on a fence at the city-run site for people experiencing homelessness in North Lawrence.

A 36-year-old woman who was found dead at a campsite for those experiencing homelessness in North Lawrence died from a mixture of drugs and alcohol, including fentanyl use, according to her autopsy report.

The woman, Ashley Sawyer, was found unresponsive in her tent on the evening of March 21. The autopsy report says the manner of death was accidental and due to a mix of diphenhydramine, ethanol and methamphetamine toxicity, with recent fentanyl use as a contributing factor. Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl, an allergy medication.

The toxicology report indicated that Sawyer’s blood alcohol concentration was .367, or more than four times the legal driving limit of .08. The report indicated that “Scene investigation is significant for nearby alcohol containers.”

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

Memorial items decorate a fence Monday, April 24, 2023, at the city-supported camp for people experiencing homelessness. The memorial is for three people who were found dead in or near the camp at different times: Ashley Sawyer, 36, from left; Anthony Cipollaro, 26; and Susan Ford, 53.

Two other people have died from drug-related causes in or near the campsite since it opened, as the Journal-World has reported.

A 53-year-old woman, Susan Ford, was found dead in her tent on Nov. 21, 2022, at the same city-supported site as Sawyer. Her autopsy report said that she had multiple prescription drugs and methamphetamine in her system and exhibited signs consistent with alcoholic ketoacidosis, a complication of alcohol abuse.

A 26-year-old man, Anthony Cipollaro, was found dead at an unsanctioned camp less than 100 yards north of the city-run camp on Dec. 30, 2022. According to his autopsy report, Cipollaro died of a combination of fentanyl, methamphetamine and kratom intoxication.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.