Sheriff’s Office: Teen Inmate Held in Oklahoma Jail Dies

May 4, 2019 Updated: May 4, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY—A teenager who was being held at an Oklahoma jail on a rape charge and who was found unresponsive last week after an apparent suicide attempt has died.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office said John Leroy Daniel Applegate died on Wednesday, May 1, at a hospital after he was found unconscious April 23.

A news release dated Thursday says the 16-year-old had been jailed since Feb. 2 after being arrested by police in Choctaw, about 15 miles east of Oklahoma City. He faced charges including rape and assault with a deadly weapon. The release says Applegate was being held alone.

Court documents don’t list an attorney for Applegate. He had been scheduled for a hearing Friday. A court filing Friday said the case is now closed.

Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Myers said Friday that the investigation into Applegate’s death is ongoing and could take about a month to complete. It will include looking at medical records.

Oklahoma law allows juveniles to be housed in adult jails if they are kept separate from older inmates. The jail must be approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Department of Health spokesman Tony Sellars said all jail deaths must be reported to his department.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building in Washington DC
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Criminal charges involving juveniles are generally kept secret, but Oklahoma law permits judges to consider some juveniles as youthful offender cases, which allows the state to levy harsher penalties for serious offenses. Court filings in the case against Applegate’s were made public.

Applegate’s death is the second apparent suicide at the jail this year. U.S. Army veteran Krysten Gonzalez died in January. A judge ruled in February the jail can no longer house detainees awaiting mental health treatment.

It’s unclear if Applegate was awaiting a mental health evaluation.

Choctaw Police Chief Kelly Marshall said Friday that her officers were called to a home to investigate a report of sexual assault, and determined there was probable cause.

Marshall said when officers told Applegate he was going to be arrested, he pulled a BB gun that looked like a real firearm from a drawer. Officers used a stun gun to subdue him, and he was taken into custody.

Glassboro Police Chief Alex Fanfarillo demonstrates how difficult it might be to distinguish a plastic airsoft pistol that fires small, rubber pellets from one that fires .40-caliber bullets. (photo by Tim Hawk)

The Oklahoma County Jail, located in Oklahoma City, has been under increased scrutiny. In April, a panel of government officials and community leaders voted to hire a private contractor to run the facility rather than the sheriff.

The jail has experienced a high number of inmate deaths in recent years. The facility also dealt with severe mold that effectively made the jail’s kitchen unusable.

Suicide Prevention

Here is information on suicide prevention from the National Institute of Mental Health. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates on June 8, 2018, revealing that suicide rates have increased by 30 percent since 1999. However, the report points out that there were a variety of factors other than mental health conditions that lead to suicide.

“Suicide rates increased significantly across most states during 1999–2016. Various circumstances contributed to suicides among persons with and without known mental health conditions,” the report stated.

If you or someone you know is showing signs that they might be suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 800-273-TALK. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255.