A Centralia man is facing manslaughter and controlled substance homicide charges for his alleged connection to the overdose death of a man inside a Centralia hotel room over Thanksgiving weekend.
Officers with the Centralia Police Department located the body of the victim, whose name and age were not released by law enforcement on Monday, inside the room of a hotel in 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia after a hotel employee called 911 at 11:17 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26.
Officers reportedly observed the victim had “foam around his mouth and nose” and there was “used drug paraphernalia and blue pills suspected to be fentanyl around (the victim),” according to documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court. In a report summarized in the affidavit of probable cause, investigators stated that “based on these observations, as well as training and experience, it was believed he died of a drug overdose.”
The defendant, identified as Chad Nathan Nickols, 45, is accused of buying fentanyl and using it alongside the victim the night of Saturday, Nov. 25, according to court documents.
In an interview with investigators, Nickols reportedly said he fell asleep and woke up when hotel staff knocked on the door to ask if the victim was going to extend his stay. Nickols reportedly told detectives “he did not realize (the victim) was deceased until he tried to wake him up after hotel staff had knocked on the door,” according to charging documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court. However, surveillance footage and witness statements reportedly established that Nickols “had actually left the room several times prior to hotel staff knocking on the door,” according to court documents.
Nickols allegedly “frantically removed his belongings from the room” the morning of Nov. 26 and told a hotel employee to call 911 “when he was unable to get back into the room,” according to court documents.
When “confronted with contradicting evidence to what he was saying during the interview,” Nickols allegedly “admitted to knowing (the victim) was deceased and packed up his belongings to try and remove any evidence he was in the room,” according to court documents.
He allegedly admitted to “gathering all his belongings from the room to avoid contact with law enforcement, however, he left his sweater in the room and could not gain entrance, which is when he contacted the hotel employee to call 911.”
At the time of his arrest, Nickols had a bag of items containing his belongings that matched the bag witnesses and surveillance footage saw him take from the room, as well as $110 in various denominations — $60 of which Nickols said he took from the victim — and Narcan, which can reverse an overdose in an emergency.
Investigators noted the Narcan in Nickols’ possession “would have countered the effects of the fentanyl he provided to (the victim). However, Nickols did not provide the Narcan and attempted to remove evidence from the room that would establish he was present,” according to court documents.
Nickols was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 4:02 p.m. on Nov. 26. He was charged Monday, Nov. 27, with one count each of first-degree manslaughter, controlled substances homicide, tampering with physical evidence, making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, and failing to summon assistance.
The manslaughter charge is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison. The controlled substances homicide charge is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Failing to summon assistance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison. The remaining charges are gross misdemeanors punishable by up to 364 days in prison.
Jail staff reported Nickols refused to appear virtually in court for his preliminary hearing on Nov. 27. Due to that refusal to appear, a judge ruled that Nickols will be held at the Lewis County Jail without bail until further notice, and the hearing was rescheduled for Nov. 28.
Nickols was present at that Nov. 28 hearing, where bail was set at $250,000.
Arraignment was scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30.