Mother accused of shoplifting dies in Clay County jail cell

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating after a local mother died in a Clay County jail cell.

Monday would have been Michelle Bewley’s 36th birthday.

Instead, her husband and daughter are mourning her.


“Today has been especially hard as today Michelle would have been 36 and my daughter and I would have been celebrating her birthday. I appreciate your help bringing attention to her untimely death. I wish I could say more but, I think right now would not be a good time,” Michelle Bewley’s husband William Bewley told Action News Jax reporter Jenna Bourne in a Facebook message.

Bewley was accused of shoplifting at a Belk department store in Orange Park.

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On Jan. 3, Bewley and another woman were accused of taking $632.28 worth of jewelry, makeup and clothes into the same fitting room and concealing the items in their purses.

They were stopped by loss prevention when they left the store, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office report on Bewley’s arrest.

That report also said Bewley gave the responding deputy a fake name.

Clerk of court records show Bewley bonded out a few days later, but her bondsman brought her back on March 4.

It’s not clear why.

On March 5, a Sheriff’s Office incident report said Bewley was “found unresponsive” in her jail cell.

Fire rescue pronounced Bewley dead that night.

“We are currently conducting a thorough investigation as to what led to Michelle Bewley’s death on March 5, 2019. We will not be making any further statements until additional information is obtained. At this time, we ask for the family’s privacy to be respected as they grieve Michelle’s passing,” said Robert Kirilloff, who is representing William Bewley, in an emailed statement.

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