Sarah Pender’s Former Cellmate Speaks

The new book, Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender, is a chronicle of Pender’s actions that led to murder, escape and capture over an eight year period. Since it hit the stands June 7, in addition to doing several TV interviews, I have received numerous emails from both the pleased and pissed. Among the former is Lisa Massimino, who was Sarah’s cellmate in the Marion County jail as Sarah awaited her trial. Parts of the book were based on the numerous letters Sarah wrote, which were confiscated by law enforcement before her trial. Lisa emailed me earlier this week: “The letter writing was CONSTANT with her. She would always tell me and tell other inmates to write their Judge or have family members write letters to the Court.”

Sarah Pender, December 2008

Sarah also managed to get frequent visits in Marion, which can be hard. 

Lisa explained to me: “I do think the jail was working with her family to ensure weekly visits.  It was nearly impossible to get a visit in Marion County let alone steady weekly having two in a week and never missing a week?”
Lisa also told me that during her stay at Marion, “Sarah would put sheets up all around her lower bunk and hold Bible study, and the officers allowed it. The officers loved her for some reason, most others couldn’t get that kind of favor.“
Lisa also said that Pender would provide drugs to her boyfriend and codefendant Richard Hull, as both were confined to Marion county although in different sections in a male-female segregation.
“At that time in Marion County, you could keep your meds (drugs) in the cell with you. And Sarah worked people to get their meds, maybe for stamps or something. Then she would write Richard a letter with pictures of the drugs and he would tell her what was good and what wasn’t. And then, somehow, and I can’t figure this out, she would get the drugs that he wanted to him.”
Art for Sarah from supporters
While we are all here, I should note that Sarah, through her mother and other supporters, has a blog called Art for Humanity. People send drawings of hands to Sarah, like the one here. 
The concept is to call attention to what some might say is injustice, although it appears that the cause is actually what Sarah’s supporters claim is a faulty trial that sent her to prison for 110 years.
I also see that Sarah has a blog that is supposed to offer excerpts from her book, “The Long Way Home,” which she spoke to me about during our visits. So far, nothing is posted, but I look forward to reading it. And finally, there’s Sarah’s MySpace page. Among her MySpace friends is Joel Walker, who spoke to me of his admiration for Sarah while I was reporting for the book. From the book: They would talk on the phone some evenings, speaking of music, school, people they knew. He told her of himself, of his own life, “but she never talked about herself. I would ask her things, but she avoided them. She avoided home. It seemed like she was always at someone else’s house.” Walker had two social outings with Sarah in 1995, red-letter days in his young life, because they were with his beloved Sarah. Too shy to tell her of his attraction to her, he gladly went along when Sarah asked.

“She was the only girl I could talk to,” he says. “She was genuinely nice.”

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