More on Sarah Pender, Girl, Wanted Coverage

The Fox TV affiliate in Indianapolis, which has done the best local job of covering Sarah Pender’s storied crime career, featured the book, Girl Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender last night. Meanwhile, the prison from which Pender escaped in August 2008 has responded to findings reported in the book, including a lax, country-clubbish rife with corrupt guards and unmanned guard posts. The spokeswoman at Rockville Correction Facility in Indiana, Pam Ferguson, came back with a classy response. Along the way in my reporting, Ferguson hung up on me, a not-so-smart way to handle a reporter. My assistant for the book later called her and obtained information. At any rate, Ferguson handled this with grace. And I take back all the bad flack qualities I attributed to her under my breath.
From the book: The women’s prison in Rockville, which held an average of 1,205 inmates a day in 2008, was established in 1970 at a former U.S. Air Force observation base that was built in 1948. It served well as a military outpost, but its turn as a prison was less than sterling in terms of security, with murmurs of corrupt guards and easy contraband. But physically, the medium-security facility, which sits on a hill a mile from a main drag of the Parke County town for which it is named in western Indiana, was beautiful and modern.

Inmates enjoy an atmosphere that is more in keeping with a summer camp than a unit that incarcerates violent murderers….Sarah had more than just good timing and planning going for her. She had also the tight lips of her friends in Rockville, who were well aware of her plot to break out. She also possibly benefitted from some bureaucratic ineptitude. A Rockville inmate, Sovayda Vasquez, was not a friend or fan of the popular Sarah. And during the period that Sarah was roping Spitler into her web in order to enable her to escape, Vasquez was enduring unwanted sexual advances from a guard, Roger Heitzman, who was later fired and prosecuted in relation to her complaints.

Vasquez, though, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the prison system, claiming that it failed to appropriately protect her from Heitzman despite the fact she had complained.
In her suit, Vasquez also claims that she had warned prison authorities that Sarah was planning an escape with the help of Spitler. Nothing was done, though.
And so it was that fate for Sarah was freedom. Knowing that the system’s typically loose security would allow each and every move that day to go unchecked enabled her plan to unfold. And Sarah was very aware of the lack of cameras in the facility.

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