Dorothy Palinchik was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on the eve of Valentine's Day, charged with stealing a $9 Philly cheesesteak sandwich from Publix.
Her bail was set at $250, but she didn't pay it. Her boyfriend said he offered, but Palinchik, 42, said she would rather do her time and get it over with.
Sometime over the next 10 days, Palinchik became gravely ill. On Friday, the jail sent her by ambulance to the Largo Medical Center. Tuesday night, she was in a coma in critical condition.
The St. Petersburg woman is suffering from a severe case of the staph infection MRSA as well as pneumonia in both lungs, according to her family. Hospital workers have told relatives Palinchik has yet to respond to antibiotics and the prognosis is grim.
Palinchik's mother, sister and boyfriend claim the jail ignored Palinchik's complaints and condition.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said privacy laws prevent the Sheriff's Office from releasing many details about Palinchik's medical treatment.
But when Palinchik was booked, she showed no signs of cuts or wounds that might have indicated MRSA, Pasha said.
An internal investigation is under way into Palinchik's treatment at the jail. Pasha said that is standard practice when an inmate becomes so seriously ill.