A rape suspect who died in the Tulsa Jail earlier this year after being found unresponsive in his cell died as a result of “remote blunt force trauma of the head,” records show.
Leo Dale Horn, 58, died in June. His was the third jail death of 2016.
At the time of his death, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying they believed Horn died of natural causes. However a state medical examiner’s report released Monday states Horn died from complications from “remote blunt force trauma of the head.”
“Remote” blunt force trauma indicates the injury was sustained in the past, though it’s unclear when the alleged assault took place.
The report notes Horn had a “past history of assault with traumatic brain injuries and skull fractures.” In his booking photo from last year, Horn can be seen with a tracheostomy tube in his throat. The ME report states that Horn, who was arrested last August after allegedly raping a pregnant woman, became dependent on the tube following his previous assault, and that the assault likely led to him developing a seizure disorder that might have played a role in his death.
“The most likely mechanisms of death include his seizure disorder and respiratory failure with tracheostomy dependence, both of which resulted from his remote assault,” the report states.
Sheriff Vic Regalado said during a press conference Monday that internal statistics show the Tulsa Jail is “about 14 percent behind the national average for jail deaths.”
“Oftentimes we receive people who are not in the best of health,” Regalado said. “(We get) people who have addictions, mental health issues, medical issues. We do our best to make sure those things are taken care of.”
Sergeant Virgil Collett said during the press conference that Horn was placed in a segregation cell “due to his age and how fragile he was.”
“Putting him in an open cell or in general population with 94-100 inmates, (detention officers) wouldn’t find him in time if he had an injury,” Collett said. “Segregation cells are more closely monitored.”
Solving Horn’s death
It appears the burden of solving Horn’s death will fall on the Tulsa Police Department. During a press conference Monday afternoon, Sheriff Vic Regalado said that when TCSO learned of Horn’s death, they called Tulsa police to seek information about the prior assault.
“TPD said in 2010 he was the victim of a serious assault that placed him on life support,” Regalado said.
He said they looked on Monday at records related to Horn’s stay at the Tulsa Jail, and found no incidents that would have led to his death.
By any measure, 2016 has been a busy one when it comes to homicides. Though the injuries that led to Horn’s death apparently happened in 2010, the homicide will be added to 2016’s total, making it the 59th in the city this year — a figure that has already blown past the 10-year average of 53 homicides per year.
Just after midnight Monday, police found a man and woman shot to death inside a north Tulsa bar. Hours later, a man was killed in an apartment complex near the 1200 block of South 73rd East Avenue, near 11th Street and Sheridan Road.
That workload has fallen on a homicide unit which has just nine detectives. Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker told Fox23 News last month that the unit is stretched “the thinnest he’s seen.”