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From: Jeanette Daniels <>
Subject: [APG] Advice needed for unusual situation
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 12:15:02 -0800 (PST)

Dear Mark:

I have been contacted by prisoners over the years but have not taken any of them for clients. I did have one woman contact me about helping her with her own genealogy, I thought, and we met at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for hands-on research together. As I asked her basic questions about her family, I got very little information. She handed me a death certificate with the cause of death marked out with a black permanent marker. I thought that was strange but she insisted that she wanted to know about his family. I thought that this was her father or possibly an uncle because of his birthdate. We easily found him as a baby on the 1930 census and the parents on the 1920 censuses as children. As I continued to refer to her family, she finally explained that this was not her family but the man her fiance in prison had killed and that she thought she would be doing the dead man's family a favor to trace the family genealogy.

I really felt uncomfortable then and when I got a chance without her looking was able to look more closely at the death certificate cause of death through the black marker. The man we had been researching had been shot at least 30 times. I ended the research session as fast as possible and excused myself.

I wish that I had known upfront who I was researching. I really don't know her true motives (well meaing or harmful) but either way, I don't feel good about helping someone with research that might greatly hurt the family of the murdered man rather than help. I personally wouldn't proceed with the research. That's just my opinion.



----- Original Message ----
From: Mark Fearer <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 10:39:37 PM
Subject: [APG] Advice needed for unusual situation

Hi folks,
Amongst the work I do, I write a genealogy column for a small paper. Recently, a reader wrote me asking for assistance in researching her family. The woman requesting this however said she was incarcerated (she didn't say where or why) and wasn't able to pay. I had decided I would be willing to do this pro-bono, because I believe that everyone deserves to know their family history, regardless of their circumstances.

Although I normally don't google clients, I made an exception (with some hesitation.) Her name wasn't familiar to me, but it turns out she's in a supermax prison, where she is serving a life sentence. At least 2 books, one movie and several TV episodes have been made about her. A significant part of her crimes/accusations are being a con woman.(One relative of a victim said, “She spent everyday of her life getting up and trying to con people.”)

I haven't communicated with her yet, as I struggle with the right thing to do.

I don't want to automatically say no because of what she's done, but I don't want to be naive about this. Has anyone had experience in doing work with inmates? Does anyone see a scam in this situation? I've talked to others about this (including people who regularly work with criminals) but I would like the thoughts of my peers.

Mark Fearer
Boulder, CO

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