2 women charged with child abuse over year after 3-year-old’s death

OKLAHOMA CITY – 3-year-old Lola Caplan died May 31, 2018; now, child abuse charges have been filed against the two women supposed to be taking care of her.

Lola’s mother, Alexis Caplan was charged with Enabling Child Abuse, and caregiver, Baylee Sowards was charged with Child Abuse on July 25, 2019.

Baylee Sowards

Alexis Caplan

In May 2018, police said 3-year-old Lola Caplan was found non-responsive in her home and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Once at the hospital, she was pronounced dead.

“It was discovered that the child had injuries consistent with child abuse,” Officer Megan Morgan, with Oklahoma City Police Department, told News 4.

The affidavit states that the child had "extensive bruising" on her body and doctors said her injuries were "possibly the result of physical abuse."

Authorities learned that the child's mother, Alexis Caplan, was at work at the time and that Lola was being cared for by Baylee Sowards.

"[Sowards] reported she and [Lola] had been driving to pick up [Alexis Caplan] from work when [Lola] began coughing. When [Sowards] gave [Lola] a soda to drink, the girl began having a seizure and stopped breathing," the affidavit states.

When confronted with evidence of bruising, Sowards reportedly told detectives that she had performed the Heimlich Maneuver on the toddler.

"[Sowards] described hearing [Lola] wheezing from the living room. [Sowards] said when she went to check on the child, [Lola] was choking. [Sowards] said she grabbed [Lola] by the throat, attempting to hold her still so she could look inside the girl's mouth. When she was unable to see anything in [Lola's] mouth or throat, [Sowards] performed the Heimlich maneuver and [Lola] coughed out a quarter," the affidavit states.

Sowards told police that she didn't tell Alexis Caplan about the incident because she didn't think she had harmed the girl.

When Alexis Caplan was interviewed, the affidavit states that she had talked to Sowards about "visible injuries she had seen on [Lola.] She also admitted [Lola] only began having the bruising and suspicious injuries after [Sowards] started caring for [Lola] and the two were alone."

Lola Caplan (image cropped from Facebook)

According to the affidavit, Lola died of hemoperitoneum (internal bleeding) due to liver laceration. The Medical Examiner's report advised that, while rare, this type of injury could be caused by efforts like the Heimlich maneuver.

However, the ME report also documented about 100 bruises over Lola's body.

"The number and distribution of the bruises were found concerning for physical abuse."

Other family members of Lola had taken photographs of her bruises because they suspected abuse. When the investigators questioned Alexis and Baylee, they could not provide consistent accounts of how Lola received her injuries.

Sowards eventually admitted to slapping Lola across the face, but "said [Alexis] would slap [Lola] across the face too, which was why she felt it was okay."

During Alexis Caplan's interview, "[Alexis] Caplan stated the injuries became so frequent, she just stopped asking Sowards how [Lola] had been injured."

If convicted, both women could face up to life imprisonment, a fine of $500-$5,000, or both.

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