Shortly after he was arrested for the slayings of his wife and three children, David Hendricks was taken to the McLean County Jail, only a block away from the Bloomington, Ill., Police Department. He would spend the next nine months there, awaiting trial.
He was placed in a brightly-lit cell in direct view of the jail command center, normally used to temporarily hold prisoners until another cell was ready for them, or for persons just arrested but expected to be freed on bail almost immediately.
In Hendricks’s case, jail management wanted very close supervision and a written record of Hendricks’s activities four times an hour. A local crisis team visited him shortly after his arrest to assess the likelihood of his having suicidal tendencies. He had very little contact with fellow inmates.
I reviewed the jail logs long ago and took notes. Here they are.
Just for context, Hendricks was arrested at about noon on Dec. 5, 1983. He was taken to Rockford, Ill., for his trial on Sept. 9, 1984. The “vest” referred to is a bullet-proof vest he wore to court hearings in Bloomington. The Sept. 6, 1984 log note is significant because that’s the night Hendricks had his face-to-face with State’s Attorney Ron Dozier.
Dec. 5, 1983
1:53 p.m.—Arrived at jail.
2:40 p.m.—Defense Attorney Jennings visits.
3:45 to 4 p.m.—Crisis team visits.
4:15 p.m.—Talked to Paul about inmate services, resting, made up cell.
6:05 p.m.—Asked about radio and TV.
6:28 p.m.—Asked for Bible and novels. “I have an active mind.”
6:45 to 8 p.m.—Resting and reading.
8:48 p.m.—Was informed about law library. “That sounds great.” Asked about haircuts for long-term inmates.
10:45 p.m. to midnight—Sleeping
Dec. 6, 1983
12:15 a.m. to 12:45 a.m.—Awake, resting
1:13 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.—Sleeping
2:44 a.m. to 4 a.m.—Reading
5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.—Sleeping
6:15 a.m.—Reading Bible
6:26 a.m. to 6:47 a.m.—Resting
8:40 a.m.—Received bucket and brush to scrub walls.
8:46 a.m.—Washing hair in sink. “A problem?” No, just checking
9:10 a.m.—Tried on vest, asked about radio and TV, about calls, subscription to Pantagraph, very interested in publicity.
10:14 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.—Attorney
11:28 a.m.—Offered shower, refused; did shave.
1:15 p.m.—Put vest on.
1:45 p.m.—Strip-searched; wanted to know why.
1:50 p.m.—Called parents; said food was good; told them about visiting hours.
3:20 p.m. to 4:12 p.m.—Attorney
5:05 p.m. to 6 p.m.—Attorney
8:05 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.—Recreation—ping pong. “I’ll be here tomorrow, but I hope I’m not here long enough for you to beat me.” Slept through night.
Dec. 7, 1983
Takes time combing hair. “I’m used to a busy life, but I’ve learned in here to take my time doing things to keep my sanity.” Recreation—ping pong and foosball. “If I skunk you, will you continue to feed me?”
Dec. 8, 1983
Recreation—watched “Hill Street Blues” and basketball on TV.
8:54 a.m.—“Bet I’m the only inmate with a mirror.” (Referring to reflective glass on control room.)
Dec. 11, 1983
Frank Wawak of Chicago called, said he knows Hendricks couldn’t have killed his wife because she was at the funeral. Hendricks’s parents visit.
Dec. 12, 1983
Defense attorneys Costello and Jennings visit.
Dec. 13, 1983
Hendricks’s business attorney, Mercer Turner, is selling Hendricks’s plane.
Dec. 14, 1983
Wanted to know if there was snow accumulation; he had seen snow on people’s hair as they came into the jail. Called his parents to doublecheck to see if his motorcycle had been stored, strongly discouraged visitors except for his parents and brother-in-law Seth.
Dec. 15, 1983
3:20 p.m.—Hendricks lingers behind privacy wall near toilet. Guard inquires “Are you okay?” “Yeah, I’m okay. Every now and then I think about the family and the tears start. I go back there and hibernate for a while.”
Exercises in cell occasionally. Rev. Forrest Sloane visits with Hendricks for a few minutes.
Dec. 21, 1983
A lot of pacing. Wants to know if lights could be turned off so he could sleep better. Also if they could be off during visiting hours so he’d be less visible to other prisoners’ visitors.
Dec. 22, 1983
In attorney room from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Daily shakedown.
Jan. 4, 1984
Moved to north holding cell for more privacy from other inmates’ visitors.
Feb. 26, 1984
Says he or any intelligent inmate could escape jail but had no intention of trying.
March 9, 1984
Complained to judge about not being able to shower and shave. Lying.
April 27, 1984
Jail superintendent informs Hendricks he may be moved away from control room area if a suicidal inmate is jailed. Hendricks jokes he might consider suicide himself if he were put in an area where he couldn’t easily communicate with staff.
Sept. 6, 1984
10:54 p.m.—Hendricks still downstairs.
11:52 p.m.—Hendricks back in cell.
Sept. 7, 1984
Midnight to 12:40 a.m.—Writing
12:43 a.m.—Makes phone call
1 a.m. to 1:13 a.m.—Writing
1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.—Resting
3:30 a.m. to 5:25 a.m.—Sleeping
8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.—In attorney room
9:11 a.m. to 11 a.m.—In attorney room
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.—Pacing
Sept. 8, 1984
7:05 p.m. to 9:44 p.m.—In attorney room
Sept. 9, 1984
1 a.m. to 2:15 a.m.—Resting
2:15 a.m. to 5:45 a.m.—Sleeping
6:45 a.m.—Departs for Rockford.
Phylis Versteegh says
Interesting! Every day must have seemed WAY over 24 hours to him.
I suspect that’s the case with nearly all jail and prison inmates. The first few days must be very disorienting.
Dawn Wooten says
Hi Steve –
We were at your presentation last night at the library and didn’t know you had this page until then. Can you elaborate on this note from above:
“Dec. 11, 1983
Frank Wawak of Chicago called, said he knows Hendricks couldn’t have killed his wife because she was at the funeral.”
Who is Frank Wawak and whose funeral is he referring to?
This entry has always been a mystery to me. I can make no sense of it. It sounds like the caller thought Susan Hendricks was at the funeral for her children. I did some light research and found a person with the name listed in the jail log who lived in suburban Chicago and died in 2005.