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


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. 

Tara Lynn Garcia


Name: Tara Lynn Garcia 
Age: 48
Died: May 17, 2019
Location: Oklahoma County Detention Center, Oklahoma City
Cause and manner of death: Undetermined
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. 

John Leroy Daniel Applegate


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


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


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


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.

Nico Lee Collins


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


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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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey grew up in Idaho. Oklahoma is her adopted home. Bailey has covered issues ranging from Oklahoma's strained child welfare system to the slow decline of Oklahoma's rural hospitals. She has walked all the way across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to south via Western Avenue and once via the old U.S. Route 66. Her hobbies are baking and crashing meetings she isn't invited to attend. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma. Email her at brianna@readfrontier.com