TV chef PAULA DEEN’s beloved nephew tragically took his own life just three days after allegedly catching his wife in bed with another man, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

Jay Hiers – fondly called “Jay Bird” by Paula – overdosed on pills and alcohol in an Atlanta hotel room on April 26.

“Jay’s suicide sent shock waves through the Deen family,” a source told The ENQUIRER.

Jay had worked for Paula since 2006 and he often appeared on her TV show. Fans were surprised to hear about his death at age 39 – but they didn’t know the tragic secret behind his sudden passing.

Last year he married Beth Brettschneider, 24, and the couple moved to Atlanta in October.

“Jay and Beth’s marriage began falling apart shortly after they moved,” a family friend told The ENQUIRER.

On April 23, “Jay arrived at their home unexpectedly and claimed he caught Beth in their bed with another man.”

Three days later, maintenance staff at the W Hotel in Dunwoody, Ga., discovered Jay’s body in room 901.

“There was no suicide note found,” Dunwoody Police Detective Kelly Boyer told The ENQUIRER.

“But the condition in which we discovered the room left us with no doubt it was in fact a suicide.”

Police found six empty prescription bottles of medications – including Seroquel, Klonopin, lamotrigine and temazepam – empty miniature bottles of Grey Goose vodka and 12 empty Bud Light beer bottles.

Although his wife Beth refused to comment when contacted by The ENQUIRER, a Dunwoody Police Department incident report stated she “began to sob and repeatedly made statements that his death was her fault” after cops broke the tragic news.

Beth told officers that Jay had earlier attempted suicide by sitting in her parents’ garage with a car running. She also stated that he had “attended outpatient treatment earlier this month and assured her he was fine.”

Jay’s grieving family believes Beth’s alleged cheating may have pushed him over the edge, sources said.

“There’s no doubt that Beth and Jay were once in love,” says the source. “Unfortunately, it ended in tragedy.”

A heartbroken Paula attended her nephew’s funeral in Albany, Ga., on April 30.

The next day, during taping of her show, Paula wept openly, said a member of the audience.

“Paula will dearly miss him and is trying to help the family move forward.”