Other inmates, such as Nini Mora, who used her own money to buy Mrs. Dockery Tylenol – some of the only medical care she'd received during her ordeal – were not eligible for the privileges exteriors. I have therefore interviewed Ms. Mora on Facebook Messenger, asking her to write down her thoughts in her diary and send me the audio clips. I also talked to Mrs. Dockery's mother, her sisters, and her aunt, all of whom told me about their great loss.
I knew that eyewitness testimony was not enough. So I went to the council of Elkhart commissioners, who manages the corrections in the county. Not once did I have the right to speak to a member. Over the months, I worked on this article, the board responded only through a lawyer, Michael DeBoni from the law firm Goshen. Yoder, Ainlay, Ulmer and Buckingham.
Typically, a journalist and a representative of a public entity engage in contextual conversations to answer simple questions of fact, such as: How many inmates are there? And how many guards? But Mr. DeBoni refused to put me on the phone. Almost every excerpt of conversation was conducted through formal legal letters, each delayed by several days.
It was such an unusual match that I have since asked for free information about how many hours Mr. DeBoni's office spent on answering my questions and the hourly rate charged to the firm by the firm. (I can report when and if this request is satisfied.)
Nevertheless, little by little, my editor Shaila Dewan and I discovered that the official picture of what Mrs. Dockery was going through was drawing. This came from documents I had obtained through the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.
The content was so surprising that as I read the documents at The Times headquarters in New York, I gasped, astonishing my colleagues next to me.
What the inmates had said to me, that is, Ms. Dockery became furious at not receiving medical help, she was placed in solitary confinement or "the box"; that she was shackled when she knocked on the door of the house – she was completely saved in the correctional officers' diary. And there was more: when she went to seek the help of a social worker, she was punished. When she vomited in a cup of noodle soup in a day room, she was castigated. When she said that she was dying, she was ignored.
Mrs. Dockery's death was probably avoidable. But she died because, experts tell me, as a drug addict, black woman and incarcerated person, her human anxiety was fired. I hope that by telling her story, Lamekia Dockery will finally be able to be seen and heard.