Manhattan man passed away following an arrest and confinement in the Riley County Jail

Joseph Varvel, 25, was detained on April 28, 2023, around 1:45 a.m. in the 300 block of N. 14th Street in Manhattan for suspicious activity. While speaking with officers, he ran and was later found in possession of cocaine. Officers on scene called for Riley County EMS (RCEMS) assistance at 1:50 a.m. after Varvel complained of breathing issues while in custody. RCEMS arrived on scene at 1:56 a.m. and cleared Varvel at 2:05 a.m.

Officers then arrested Varvel on possession of cocaine, possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, and interference with LEO and transported him to the Riley County Jail. RCEMS was called at 3:32 a.m. when Varvel became physically ill. His condition quickly deteriorated and Corrections Officers began lifesaving measures. RCEMS arrived at 3:41 a.m. and continued lifesaving measures. RCEMS then transported Varvel to Via Christi in Manhattan at 4:03 a.m. where he arrived at 4:12 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:47 a.m.

Per state statute, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) will be the lead agency investigating the death. An autopsy will be conducted.

“Our hearts go out to Mr. Varvel’s family and friends,” said Director Brian Peete. “This agency holds itself to the highest levels of integrity and accountability and will continue to be transparent and work with the KBI through their analysis of this case. I commend our Corrections staff and EMS who did everything in their power to help Mr. Varvel during this tragic situation.”

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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