The Tulsa Jail inmate who died Wednesday after reportedly being found hanging in her cell had been in the medical unit prior to being moved to a “segregation unit,” jail officials said Thursday.
Due to laws surrounding the disclosure of medical information, the officials could not disclose why Caitlin Lewis had been in a medical unit after her arrest. Lewis, 30, was arrested Sept. 29 on a complaint of “Munchausen syndrome by Proxy,” a form of neglect or abuse in which a caretaker either pretends someone in their care is sick or intentionally makes them sick in order to garner sympathy. She had spent just six days in the jail before dying.
Lewis had not yet been charged at the time of her death.
An inspection report the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is required to send to the Oklahoma State Health Department after a serious injury or death in the jail indicates Lewis was found hanging from a sprinkler pipe in her cell at 11:31 a.m. on Wednesday by jailers who were bringing her medication. A jail doctor pronounced her dead at 11:47 a.m.
Security checks by jailers on inmates held in segregation cells are “routine,” TCSO Public Information Officer Justin Green said Thursday, though he said for “security reasons” they don’t divulge how often the checks are done. TCSO officials in the past have said the checks are done every 30 minutes.
Inmates in segregation units are held in solitude for 23 hours a day, Green said. They receive an hour of “recreation time” in an indoor, concrete-walled room that has a partially open ceiling, allowing for natural light.
What an inmate is allowed to have in a segregation cell varies based on each inmate’s specific situation, Green said. Some inmates are not allowed to have any items inside, he said.
“Typically, though, you’ll have the mattress, sheets, blankets, clothes, and sometimes even some commissary items,” he said. Jail officials have not yet released what items Lewis was allowed to have in her cell, though the inspection report lists that she was found hanging by a bed sheet.
Lewis’ case has drawn increased local attention because of the rare nature of the mental illness she reportedly suffered from. The illness is very rare, though medical professionals differ on how to measure the problem. The medical diagnosis — factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA) — typically affects mothers who are caretakers for their own children, though it has been reported in men, as well as caretakers for adults.
Lewis is the fourth person to die in the jail this year:
- Nathan Daniel Bradshaw, 32, was found unresponsive in his cell March 12. Jail officials said he attempted to hang himself, then later died at a Tulsa hospital.
- Leo Dale Horn, 58, died June 11 after being found unresponsive in his segregation cell.
- Mitchell Godsey, 59, died Aug. 1. Godsey and Horn reportedly died of “natural causes,” according to TCSO officials. The state Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released their autopsy reports.