VSP: Simpson Death Investigation Could Take Several Weeks

Members of the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit are conducting an investigation at 1066 Railroad St. in St. johnsbury on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (Photo by Dana Gray)

The death certificate of Johnnie A. Simpson Jr. has been released, but it doesn’t provide any information about how and why the St. Johnsbury man died after collapsing on Railroad Street last week.

The manner and cause of death are listed as “pending investigation” on the certificate filed by state officials on Feb. 17 following an autopsy performed by Chief Medical Examiner Steven L. Shapiro, MD, in Burlington.

That’s because the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit is continuing to investigate Simpson’s untimely and “suspicious” death.

“Detectives are awaiting a final determination from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington on the cause and manner of Mr. Simpson’s death,” said state police on Tuesday. “This is pending toxicology testing, which could take several weeks.”

Simpson, 45, was found unresponsive by St. Johnsbury Police near 1066 Railroad St. on Feb. 12 at about 3 p.m. Simpson was brought by ambulance to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital where, according to the death certificate, he was pronounced dead in the NVRH Emergency Room at 3:46 p.m.

Police have said their investigation has revealed that Simpson was dropped off at the Ocean State Job Lot store on Memorial Drive in St. Johnsbury at about 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 and was seen walking south toward Railroad Street wearing a reddish orange winter jacket.

The Vermont State Police were called in by local authorities to join the investigation on Sunday night, Feb. 14, and conducted a crime scene investigation the next morning at an apartment building located at 1066 Railroad St.

According to the death certificate, Simpson was born in St. Johnsbury and worked as a cable installer.

Investigators say they are examining “all possibilities” connected with the case and continue to ask anyone with information or anyone who may have seen Simpson between 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 to call the St. Johnsbury state police barracks at (802) 748-3111, or provide a tip anonymously online by visiting vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit.

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