Jeffrey Macomber Jr., 21, was set to be released from Penobscot County Jail the day after he died, his mother said.
The Penobscot County Jail and Sheriff's Department building in Bangor is pictured on May 12, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

A Bangor woman identified her 21-year-old son as the man who died in the Penobscot County Jail of a suspected overdose earlier this month after police repeatedly declined to release his name.

Jeffrey Macomber Jr., 21, of Bangor died at the jail on Jan. 3, according to his death certificate. Macomber had been in jail since Sept. 20, 2022, after pleading guilty to a domestic violence assault charge. He was sentenced to serve six months.

Macomber also accrued a handful of additional charges from May through August 2022 for violating the conditions of his release, tampering with a victim, witness or juror, and improperly contacting a victim before posting bail, according to his criminal record.

Macomber’s death is the first from the Penobscot County Jail in 2023, but comes after two people died in the custody of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office last year.

The sheriff’s office announced Macomber’s death on Jan. 4, but declined to release his identity. Since then, the sheriff’s office has declined comment and indicated Friday the case has been turned over to Bangor police.

Bangor police spokesperson Sgt. Jason McAmbley said Monday that personal information about an inmate would come from the sheriff’s office, “as the person was a prisoner in their custody.”

McAmbley also declined to comment on the cause and manner of death on Monday, pending results from the medical examiner’s office.

The sheriff’s office said on Jan. 4 that Macomber died from a suspected overdose, but the case was under investigation. Officers found him unresponsive and other inmates attempted to resuscitate him.

Police don’t believe Macomber’s death was caused by any physical altercation between inmates or with staff.

Sandra Macomber said her son was somewhat of a class clown in school, but was kind and a talented athlete. At 6-foot-7, he particularly enjoyed playing basketball, she said.

Her son had plans to go to college after his release. He was interested in enrolling in a heating or plumbing trade program, perhaps at Eastern Maine Community College, Macomber said.

Macomber said her son was supposed to be released the day after he died. His three siblings planned to pick him up and take him to get the food he dreamed about while incarcerated.

“He said he wanted to have a steak, and now he’s never going to get that steak,” Macomber said. “There’s no way we’re going to get our son back. Our lives are ruined forever.”

Macomber’s death comes a little more than three months after another man died in the custody of the sheriff’s office — the second such death in 2022.

James Pearsall, 50, was found unresponsive in his locked cell in late September 2022. The sheriff’s office did not release a cause of death at the time, but said Pearsall’s death did not appear suspicious.

In March 2022, Jeremy Lau, 46, of Patten died while he was in the custody of the sheriff’s office and Maine State Police. Similarly, no cause or manner of death was released for Lau’s death.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named what Macomber pleaded guilty to. Macomber was indicted on a felony charge of domestic violence aggravated assault, but ultimately pleaded guilty to domestic violence assault, which is a misdemeanor.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...