Not to worry: They were finally answered – one day too late. On the day the story hit the stands, Deborah Denham, executive assistant to Warden Ginny Van Buren, responded to questions from Fort Worth Weekly about two inmates’ mysterious deaths, the number of deaths that have occurred there since January 2005, and a Carswell officer’s request to a staff doctor that he falsify a report on the alleged suicide attempt of inmate Linda Fenton, who died at an outside hospital after being found in her cell with a sheet wrapped around her neck.
Mari Ayn Sailer, 28, and Sharon Macauley, 66, died unexpectedly last year in September and December, respectively, and to date their families have received no information about either woman’s cause of death or copies of their autopsy reports.
Now, Denham has told the Weekly what the families still have not been officially told: The cause of death of both women was “coronary artery disease.” Denham refused to release the autopsy reports. “You can request a copy … from the families,” she said.
That would be fine – if the families had copies.
An angry Rich Macauley, Sharon’s son, said that not only have Macauley family members never received an autopsy report, they were never told a cause of death until reporter Betty Brink called with the information. “It’s a crying shame when a family has to learn of their mother’s cause of death from a reporter instead of the hospital where she died. What kind of place is that?” he said.
The Sailer family couldn’t be reached, but several weeks ago that family, too, was still in the dark as to the cause of Mari Ayn’s death.
Since January 2005, there have been 17 deaths at the prison, Denham wrote. That’s the same number given to the Weekly last August – before either Sailer or Macauley’s deaths. Theirs, apparently, didn’t get counted.
Why? Well, both inmates died off site. When a death occurs outside the razor wire, said former Carswell physician Roger Guthrie, it is not counted as a Carswell death.
As to the falsification charge, Denham said only, “Inmate Fenton did not die at FMC Carswell.” Huh? Is the bureaucratic reasoning that if the death didn’t occur there, then a request to falsify a document about the death didn’t occur either?
As the Church Lady would say, how convenient.