Caitlin Lewis. Courtesy

Caitlin Lewis. Courtesy

A Chouteau woman who was arrested last month on a complaint of neglect via a complicated form of child abuse known as “child neglect by munchausen by proxy” died Wednesday in the Tulsa Jail.

Caitlin Lynn Lewis, 30, apparently died from self-inflicted means, officials said

Lewis was arrested Sept. 29, a few months after Saint Francis Hospital workers told Tulsa police they believed Lewis had been abusing her 3-year-old daughter.

“Munchausen by proxy” cases typically indicate a parent has been faking or exaggerating their child’s injuries or illness to garner public sympathy.

It is considered a mental illness and 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.

The Tulsa Jail has been the focus of more than a dozen civil rights lawsuits filed in recent years over prisoner deaths and injuries. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

The Tulsa Jail has been the focus of more than a dozen civil rights lawsuits filed in recent years over prisoner deaths and injuries. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

The caretakers don’t generally fake the illness in hopes of financial gain through fundraisers, according to medical definitions of FDIA. Instead, they tend to bask in the glow of public support and encouragement for the dedicated care they’re providing.

In Lewis’ case, police said she went so far as to tell friends her daughter had died.

At the time of her arrest, Lewis had accumulated thousands of pages of medical records. Investigators told NewsOn6 in September that Lewis’ daughter had gone to live with her father after Lewis’ arrest, and was completely healthy.

Lewis is at least the fourth person to die in the jail this year:

  • Nathan Daniel Bradshaw, 32, was found unresponsive in his cell March 12.
  • 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 Frontier has filed an Open Records Act lawsuit against the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office for  jail surveillance video. The Frontier’s suit seeks video related to the death of Bradshaw and a second inmate, David Fulps, who suffered a broken neck and pelvis in the jail.

Bradshaw, 32, reportedly died in a Tulsa hospital after attempting to hang himself, and The Frontier has requested surveillance video of his jail pod to determine whether detention officers checked on him. .

Sheriff Vic Regalado’s office has denied The Frontier’s request for jail video, saying it is not a public record.

Under former Sheriff Stanley Glanz, the Sheriff’s Office released jail video and even contracted with MSNBC’s “Lockup” for an entire season of video shot inside the same jail. That “Lockup” agreement involved income for the office and a starring role for administrators, including former Acting Sheriff Michelle Robinette.

Robinette gave a report to the Criminal Justice Authority last October listing a total of 10 deaths in the Tulsa Jail between 2013 and Oct. 23, 2015. Of those 10 deaths, five occurred in the jail and five at a hospital, according to the report.

Oklahoma ranked #4 per capita nationally in the number of deaths in jails, according to Department of Justice data analyzed by The Huffington Post. 

TCSO faces more than a dozen civil rights lawsuits for deaths and serious injuries in the jail. A jury found the Sheriff’s Office was deliberately indifferent to the civil rights of a former inmate who alleged she was raped in the jail as a juvenile.