Charges Filed Against 2 Women More Than 1 Year After Child's Death

Friday, July 26th 2019, 1:43 pm
By: LeighAnne Manwarren

Criminal charges have been filed against two women in connection with a May 2018 death of a child, according to Oklahoma County court documents.

Baylee Sowards, 23, was charged with child abuse, and Alexis Nicole Caplan, 25, was charged with enabling child abuse. The charges were filed on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

Lola Caplan, 3, died on May 31, 2018, at OU Children's Hospital. She was taken to the hospital after she stopped breathing. 

Related: OKC Police Investigate Toddler's Death 

Police determined Sowards was alone with Lola before she became unresponsive, according to the probable cause affidavit filed on June 4, 2019.

Sowards said she performed the Heimlich maneuver on Lola between 3 and 4 a.m. May 31. She said the girl coughed up a quarter, according to the probable cause affidavit. 

The state medical examiner's office determined the girl died from hemoperitoneum (blood in the abdomen) due to a liver laceration, according to the probable cause affidavit. The child's manner of death was listed as unknown. The medical examiner's report stated while it's rare, the internal injury causing Lola's death had been described in past cases of where the Heimlich maneuver had been used. 

The state medical examiner's office also documented 100 bruises in various ages on Lola's head, chest, abdomen, back, buttocks, upper extremities and lower extremities.

Family members told police they suspected Lola had been physically abused and showed photos of the girl with extensive bruises and marks on her body, face and head.

More: Family Friend Reflects On Signs Of Abuse Following Child’s Death  

Sowards told police she slapped Lola on the face five to six times in the past, and said she thought it was OK because she saw Caplan do it before. Sowards said she and Caplan used a paddle to spank Lola before. 

During the investigation, police learned Caplan sent a text message to a friend two days before Lola's death and said she was "pretty sure" Sowards "beat" Lola because Lola was "covered in bruises," according to the probable cause affidavit. 

Caplan told police her daughter started presenting frequent bruises after they started living with Sowards in December 2017. Caplan said the injuries became so frequent, she stopped asking Sowards about it, according to the court document.