What Happened To Terral? Family Questions Ottawa County Jail Death
OTTAWA COUNTY, Oklahoma - Terral Ellis’s grandpa told him to get right with the law, and he finally listened.
In October 2015, Ellis turned himself in on an Ottawa County warrant for failure to appear in court months earlier on a DUI charge. He knew it meant heading straight to jail.
No one expected him to die there.
Ellis died Oct. 22 while in custody at the Ottawa County jail. He had complained of pain in his back, ribs and internal organs. Jailers noted he had a history of drug abuse and seizures, and twice called an ambulance, but Ellis wasn’t taken to a hospital until he was dying.
The 26-year-old was examined by jail medical staff and put in a solitary cell where he was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes. He left a phone message for his grandpa begging for an appointment and money to go to a chiropractor for his back pain.
According to Ellis’s autopsy, investigators told the medical examiner’s office “he was found alone in his cell with acute respiratory distress,” and “a bed sheet tied loosely around his neck.”
This bedsheet detail was repeated several times as the investigation into Ellis’s death began, records show.
The problem with that? Ellis died of sepsis and pneumonia.
The District Attorney responded to a records request by The Frontier: "No records held by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office concerning the death of Terral Ellis, are subject to public inspection."
Our partners at The Frontier have more on this story, including a voicemail message from Terral Ellis to his grandfather that wasn't discovered until after Ellis died.