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Monticello sports star found dead; police suspect drug overdose

By Fritz Mayer
April 1, 2013

NEW YORK CITY, NY — Jessica Fingers, a former athletic star who attended Monticello High School, was found dead in a dorm room at Columbia University on March 31.

According to various news reports, police suspect it was a drug overdose. An account in the New York Daily News said, “An autopsy to determine the cause of Jessica Fingers’ death is pending. But police believe she overdosed, and no foul play is suspected, sources said.”

She was founded face-up and nonresponsive at 11:48 a.m.

Fingers, who was 21-years-old, was attending the prestigious Ivy League university on a full track scholarship. She had been studying sociology, but earlier said that she had been considering a career in marketing or perhaps law.

She had taken a leave from the college after last spring’s semester due to health concerns but was due to return in the fall. She was a star athlete, who was pursued by various colleges including St. John’s University, the University of Connecticut, Northeastern, Northwestern, Villanova and the University of Buffalo.

In 2009, sports reporter and columnist Richard Ross wrote, “From her first visit to Columbia, Fingers’ heart was won by the school’s allure, with its impeccable reputation and wonderful Manhattan location, the warmth and dedication of the young women in the running program and, of course, the coaches, including head cross-country and track and field coach Willy Wood.”

Also in that year, Fingers was the recipient of the coveted Mayor’s Trophy, which was presented to her at the time by Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins.

In a phone interview, Ross said, “One of the things that stands out about her was her incredible work ethic. She had an amazing capacity to reach down and always find that next level.”