Face To Face With Jailhouse Rumors


Mugshot of Chris from around the time Catherine visited him in jail.

In week four of our investigation, we delve into rumors that Rebekah got into altercations with several women.

To gain insight on the women, we needed to refer back to the men who knew them best, and who had reached out to Rebekah’s family – and some of them were behind bars.

Catherine recording with her trusty sidekick Winston.

As part of this case, Taylor and I have made several attempts to visit people in prison for a variety of reasons. I have visited several prisons while covering crime stories, and it’s always an adventure.

The rules for visiting prisoners depend on several factors: Which state you are in, whether it is a federal or state facility, how serious the crime is that the inmate is serving time for and also how well-behaved (or not) that particular inmate has been.

Some are straightforward: You generally can’t wear tank tops or revealing clothing and you generally have to pass through a metal detector and be searched.

Some are a bit more esoteric. Many facilities ban surgical scrubs because they pose a security threat, and others ban certain colors – like khaki or white – that are worn by staff.

I recently read that one facility had banned female visitors from wearing tampons because they had such a big problem with people smuggling in items below the belt.

While inmates with good behavior may be allowed several visitors per week, for example, a prisoner who is being punished for bad behavior may have his phone privileges or visitation restricted.

Visits generally fall into two categories: Contact or non-contact. In contact visits, you sit at a small table and are allowed to hug hello and goodbye – some people who try to go further risk being screamed at by guards! Non-contact visit means that you are physically separated, usually by a glass or plastic wall.

Back when I visited Chris in prison in 2014/2015, I picked up a phone on one side of a plastic wall and talked to him on the other side. I made a few errors: Since I had never met him before I brought a Walmart blanket with me (following a suggestion from a friend of his), but since the jail did not allow gifts I ended up taking it home instead.

Brian has sent us many letters during our investigation.

Even writing a letter has its own set of special rules: Often inmates can only receive one or two pages, weights are restricted, and jail staff will sometimes open up and look through mail.

I have a few of my own rules that I follow as well – I maintain a virtual mailing address when writing to inmates so that no one has my home address. And when I visit a prison, I try to become a “Blank slate.”

I tend to wear all black (which I tend to do a lot anyway) and no personalized jewelry or slogans that would give away any aspect of my personality.

More and more prisons are doing video visitations, which is why Taylor was finally able to talk face-to-face with Brian.

Taylor does a video visitation with Brian.