Women’s prison inmate died by hanging, death certificate says

By: - June 21, 2021 4:42 pm

Lisa Anne Nester, who escaped from Montana Women’s Prison, was returned to several weeks ago. She was found unresponsive in her cell on Monday and the DOC said she died on Tuesday. (Montana Department of Corrections).

A 50-year-old woman who died while in custody at the Montana Women’s Prison was found in her cell “suspended by a bedsheet,” according to her death certificate. 

Lisa Anne Nester received medical care at Billings Clinic after she was found unresponsive in her cell June 7. Nester died from lack of oxygen due to hanging, according to her death certificate.

Her common-law husband, James Reynolds, called the death “a big shock,” in an interview with the Daily Montanan Monday. 

The Billings Police Department and Yellowstone County Coroner are investigating Nester’s death. The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Deputy Chief of Criminal Operations, Christopher Morris, said a coroner’s inquest would be held regarding Nester’s death, but a date has not been set.

Reynolds said he plans to attend the inquest, but did not want to comment further on Nester’s death at this time.

Nester was serving a three-year sentence in the Montana Women’s Prison for a felony escape in 2015. She was also awaiting trial on a second charge of felony escape. The first felony escape case stemmed from 2015 when Nester walked away from Great Falls Transition Center where she was serving time for an assault on a minor case from 2007. She was arrested in February in Oklahoma. 

After she was sentenced in April for the 2015 escape, Nester allegedly escaped from the Montana Women’s Prison on May 14. She was arrested about a day later and the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office charged Nester again with escape. Nester died before the case was adjudicated. Prosecutors also charged Reynolds with felony conspiracy to commit escape, and believe Reynolds helped Nester with her second alleged escape.

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Ashley Nerbovig
Ashley Nerbovig

Ashley Nerbovig is a journalist whose previous stops include the Missoulian, The Billings Gazette and the Detroit Free Press, where she covered the 2020 election and the topics of misinformation and disinformation. She went to the University of Montana's school of journalism.