McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

April 1, 2014

Daughter upset over the handling of inmate’s death

ALVA, Okla. — The daughter of a man found stabbed to death at James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena is asking questions.

“I’d like to know why the prison won’t give me any answers. I’d really like to know why they won’t talk to me,” Sheryl Coleman said. “It took me calling the news to figure out what happened to my own father.”

Coleman’s father, 61-year-old Timothy Dunivan, was found dead at the prison at about 8 a.m. Saturday, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie.

Massie said Monday the murder weapon appeared to be a “homemade knife-like” weapon and there was a suspect. The suspect was transferred to a different facility.

According to Coleman, she did not learn of her father’s death until about 6:30 p.m. Saturday. She said she was contacted by a police department in her home state of Texas and told to contact the Crabtree prison warden.

She said it took the prison a while to find her, which she does not understand because the prison had her information and she regularly visited her father over the past four years.

“All (the warden) said was that she was sorry to inform me that my father had passed away. They wouldn’t tell me any other information other than that,” Coleman said.

At about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, she learned Dunivan had been “brutally murdered” and that he had been stabbed to death from “top to bottom.”

She was told by the funeral home he had stab wounds all over his face and body, but Coleman has not yet seen Dunivan’s body.

Coleman said news media knew her father had been the victim of a homicide before she knew the nature of his death.

Contrary to information released that Dunivan had his own cell, Coleman said her father described being in living conditions that were like cubicles.

“They weren’t in lockdown. They were never completely in closed areas at any time. He was an upper-level trustee where they had complete access to go outside whenever they wanted,” Coleman said.

When Dunivan first went to the center, he received death threats, Coleman said.

“He showed them to me during visits,” she said, adding she went to Dunivan’s counselor at the prison, asked about the threats and was told Dunivan was being watched. “They were aware of all the death threats he was getting.”

Coleman last saw her father in January.

At that time, she said Dunivan told her he had started receiving death threats again in October 2013. He did not want to talk about the threats in front of a nearby guard, she said.

“He was supposed to write me and let me know what was going on, but I never heard anything,” she said. “He had to be real careful what he said in front of the people, and I don’t know why.”

Coleman said when her mother died, there were concerns about Dunivan and he was put in lockdown.

“They put him on suicide watch, but he gets death threats and they ignore it. I want answers is what I want,” she said.

Coleman said she kept calling the prison for more information and officials would not speak to her.

She said during her visits the center did not seem dangerous.

“It was a big, open room, so it didn’t seem like a dangerous place,” she said.

Coleman said she does not understand why someone so violent was put into the same medium-security area as her father.

“I know what my dad did was wrong, please don’t get me wrong, I do. I know he did wrong, but he did not deserve to be murdered,” she said, crying. “It’s just so hard because of what they did to him.”

Dunivan was serving three 50-year sentences after being convicted in 2005 of sexually abusing a minor in Tulsa County.

“I’m just angry because I don’t understand where (prison officials) were, why they weren’t taking care of him knowing this was going on. I don’t understand, I really don’t,” Coleman said. “They knew about the death threats, they knew about his pedophile charges, why this happened, I don’t understand.”

Coleman said Dunivan was in a wheelchair after having a leg amputated about two years ago.

“While he was there, about two years ago, he had gotten a cut on his leg. He kept telling him that his leg was hurting, he was having problems. And by the time that they got around to taking care of the cut, he had already gotten a really bad infection,” Coleman said.

His leg was amputated due to the infection, she said.

A call to Massie was unreturned at press time Tuesday.

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