Cell by Cell: The complete list of people who have died in Oklahoma jails in 2019

The Frontier is tracking every jail death in Oklahoma

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The Frontier is tracking every jail death in Oklahoma in 2019. We hope to uncover more about how and why people die in Oklahoma jails. 

Did we miss an incident or would you like to talk to us about one listed below? Contact Kassie@readfrontier.com.

#17

Name: Ryan Melton 
Age: 33
Died: Sept. 27, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County jail
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
What happened: Melton was found hanging in his cell, according to a news release from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. Staff and medical personnel started life-saving measures immediately after discovering Melton, according to the release. Melton was booked into the jail on June 6 on a warrant of second-degree burglary.  At the time of the death he was in a cell by himself. 

#16

Dianne Annette Jones, 57.

Name: Dianne Annette Jones
Age: 57
Died: Sept. 23, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County jail
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
What happened: On the night of Sept. 23, 2019, a detention officer was conducting sight checks at the jail when he heard Jones’ cellmate call for help, according to an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office news release. The detention officer found Jones unresponsive. Sheriff’s office and medical staff performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator until EMSA arrived, according to the release. 

Jones was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her cause of death is pending. The sheriff’s office is investigating the death.

#15

Jeffery Paul Kay, Jr. Obituary photo.

Name:  Jeffery Paul Kay, Jr.
Age: 33
Died: Sept. 13, 2019
Location: Payne County jail
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
What happened:  Jail officials wrote in an incident report that the man tried to swallow what was possibly a bag of “crystal meth” while being strip-searched. A detention officer managed to get the remainder of what was in bag from the man, the report states. The man was monitored by medical. The report is unclear when he became unresponsive, but states CPR was done on the man. First responders declared him dead about 25 minutes later.

#14

Photo unavailable

Name: Brent Waters
Age: 56
Died: Sept. 13, 2019
Location: Jackson County jail
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
What happened: Altus Police Chief Tim Murphy told ABC7News Waters collapsed in the jail’s booking room. Waters was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, according to ABC7News. Prior to collapsing, he had been taken to a local hospital for a blood draw. 

#13

Photo unavailable

Name: Arjen Loeak
Age: 39
Died: Sept. 12, 2019
Location: Garfield County jail
Cause and manner of death: Suicide
What happened:

Loeak was found hanging in his cell, according to a report from the state medical examiner. He died by suicide, the report states.

Loeak was arrested on Sept. 9, 2019, on a warrant for failing to appear in court and failing to pay court fees in 2017 DUI and transporting an open container cases, according to court records.

#12

Larry Gene Owens. Obituary photo.

Name: Larry Gene Owens
Age: 59
Died: Aug. 14, 2019
Location: Latimer County jail
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
What happened:

Owens was alone in the jail’s “drunk tank,” according to an incident report the Latimer County Sheriff’s Office submitted to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Jail Inspection Division.

He was found hanging in the cell on August 14, according to the report. The report states he died by suicide.

Steve Tanner with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation told The Frontier on Aug. 16 that the agency is investigating. This story will be updated.

Owens was arrested for feloniously pointing a firearm and had a bond of $5,000, court records show.

Daryl Clinton

#11

Name: Daryl Clinton
Age: 56
Died: Aug. 10, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County jail
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
What happened: Clinton was booked into the jail on Aug. 6, 2019, after being involved in a single-vehicle car crash in Oklahoma City. Police took him to a hospital, and he was then booked into the jail on a complaint of possession of controlled dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, according to a news release from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Court records indicate Clinton had not yet been charged with a crime. 

Clinton was placed under medical supervision because of medical issues and an amputated leg, according to an incident report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health Jail Inspection Division. Clinton had used a wheelchair since his arrest. On Aug. 10, jail staff attempted to move the man into a camera-monitored cell, but they were unable to get him into the wheelchair, according to the report. Staff went to get Clinton a gurney instead. When staff returned to the cell, Clinton was found unresponsive and was transported by ambulance to a hospital, where he later died, the report states. 

The sheriff’s office is investigating Clinton’s death.

Fawn Felicia Tsatigh, 38. Obituary photo.

#10

Name: Fawn Felicia Tsatigh 
Age: 38
Died: June 19, 2019
Location: Blaine County Jail, Watonga
Cause and manner of death: Methamphetamine toxicity
What happened: On June 19, deputies responded to a call in reference to Tsatigh standing in her front yard screaming. Tsatigh, a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal citizen, told deputies she had been assaulted, but they were unable to gather information on the assault, according to an incident report the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office submitted to the state health department.. The woman was arrested on a warrant for unpaid traffic fines from 2015 out of Creek County and taken to the Blaine County Jail. Tsatigh was alert and answered questions when she was booked into the jail, according to the incident report. Less than two hours later the woman tried to harm herself in her cell, and Creek County was contacted and they dropped their hold on the woman. As jailers entered her cell, they found Tsatigh was unresponsive and started to have a seizure, the report states. An ambulance was called and the woman had to be carried out to a stretcher. Tsatigh was responsive in the ambulance but coded as the vehicle pulled up to the hospital. She was pronounced dead at the emergency room. 

The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled she died of acute methamphetamine toxicity. 

#9

Photo unavailable

Name: Justin Edward Powers 
Age: 31
Died: May 24, 2019
Location: Jefferson County jail, Waurika 
Cause and manner of death: Suicide by hanging
What happened: Powers was found hanging in his cell on May 14, according to abc7News. He was taken to a Jefferson County hospital and later flown to an Oklahoma City hospital, where he was placed on life support. 

He died 10 days later on May 24, according to a medical examiner’s report. 

Tara Lynn Garcia

#8

Name: Tara Lynn Garcia 
Age: 48
Died: May 17, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County Detention Center, Oklahoma City
Cause and manner of death: Methamphetamine toxicity 
What happened: A detention officer who was serving breakfast found Garcia dead in her cell around 5 a.m. Garcia was housed in a cell with two other women at the time of her death. The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office said it does not suspect any foul play. Garcia was being held in the jail without bond after Edmond police arrested her May 16 on a warrant for petit larceny after she failed to make a court appearance. 

Garcia died from the toxic effects of methamphetamine, according to the Associated Press.

John Leroy Daniel Applegate

#7

Name: John Leroy Daniel Applegate
Age: 16
Died: May 1, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County Detention Center, Oklahoma City
Cause and manner of death: Suicide by hanging
What happened: Applegate was found unconscious hanging from a light fixture in his cell shortly after midnight on April 23. Jail staff administered CPR before paramedics arrived. He died nine days later at OU Medical Center. Applegate had been held at the jail since Feb. 4 on charges of first-degree rape, rape by instrumentation, assault with a dangerous weapon, obstructing an officer and resisting arrest. Applegate was charged as a youthful offender, but the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office filed a notice with the court that it would seek an adult sentence.

Josiah Cynol Sawney

#6

Name: Josiah Cynol Sawney
Age: 28
Died: March 21, 2019
Location: Sequoyah County Jail, Sallisaw 
Cause and manner of death: Methamphetamine toxicity 
What happened: According to a news report, Sawney appeared agitated and was behaving erratically after being booked into the jail on an outstanding warrant from Arkansas. He told a jail nurse that he had consumed some energy drinks that made him behave oddly. Sawney fell unconscious, was transported to a local hospital and was declared dead shortly thereafter. Methamphetamine and amphetamine were later found in Sawney’s system. 

Delbert Lloyd Phillips

#5

Name: Delbert Lloyd Phillips
Age: 53
Died: March 12, 2019
Location: Pittsburg County Jail, McAlester
Cause and manner of death: Suicide by hanging
What happened:
A detention officer found Phillips in a cell hanging from the top bunk at about 5:30 a.m. Emergency responders pronounced Phillips dead at the scene, according to a jail incident report. Phillips was being held in the jail for alleged aggravated possession of child pornography.

Michael James Hoeppner. Obituary photo

#4

Name: Michael James Hoeppner
Age: 60
Died: March 9, 2019
Location: Atoka County Jail, Atoka
Cause and manner of death: Double bronchopneumonia due to the flu.
What happened: Hoeppner died after being booked into the Atoka County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, but post-mortem toxicology tests found no drugs or alcohol in his system. Before Hoeppner’s arrest, the Atoka County Sheriff’s Office received multiple 911 calls about a possible impaired driver weaving in and out of traffic, according to a jail incident report. Police took Hoeppner to a local hospital for a blood test before he was booked into the jail. A corrections officer found Hoeppner dead in his cell at about 6:30 a.m. the next morning.  Hoeppner appeared to have died in his sleep, the sheriff’s office reported.

Louis Alford. Obituary photo.

#3

Name: Louis Alford 
Age: 60
Died: Feb. 19, 2019
Location: Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority 
Cause and manner of death: Hypertensive cardiovascular disease
What happened: The man complained he wasn’t feeling well and was brought to the jail’s booking area to be checked by medical, according to an incident report submitted to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Jail Inspection Division. He became unresponsive, an ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead, the report states. 

A report from the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner states Alford likely died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease. He also had diabetes. Alford has no drugs or alcohol in his system when he died, according to the report. 

Nico Lee Collins

#2

Name: Nico Lee Collins
Age: 29
Died: Feb. 5, 2019
Location: Cimarron County Jail, Boise City
Cause and manner of death: Suicide by hanging
What happened: Collins was booked into the jail for public intoxication and placed into a cell alone, according to the Cimarron County Sheriff’s Office. About five hours after arriving at the jail, staff observed Collins move to the back of the cell near a toilet and sink, where he fabricated a device to use in an apparent suicide by asphyxiation.
Intake documents completed at the time of Collins entry to the facility did not indicate he was at risk of self-harm, according to the Sheriff’s office.

Krysten Mischelle Gonzalez

#1

Name: Krysten Mischelle Gonzales
Age: 29
Died: Jan. 8, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County Detention Center, Oklahoma City
Cause and manner of death: Suicide by hanging
What happened: Gonzales was being held in the jail on a warrant for failure to appear. The Oklahoman reported Gonzales had been waiting at the jail for three months while the Oklahoma County Public Defender’s office searched for a bed for her at an in-patient mental health facility. An incident report filed by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office stated that while a detention officer was doing sight checks,  she noticed the window of Gonzales’ cell was covered and then found her unresponsive in her cell. Gonzalez was later pronounced dead at OU Medical Center.

This page will be updated with additional information about deaths as it becomes available. 

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Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.
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