- Daniel McMullen had mentioned the boots in his letter home, soon
after getting 13 stitches to his upper lip. The black boots were
worn by Dennis Hadley when he allegedly kicked Mr. McMullen in
their jail cell the morning of Feb. 3.
"Jesus kicked me in
the mouth while I was in my bunk with his steel toe boots on, were
not even suppose to be allowed to have them in here," Mr.
McMullen, 42, formerly of Douglas, wrote to a friend, after he was
taken to St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center for
Mr. McMullen, an
inmate at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in
West Boylston, returned to the hospital hours later, complaining
of continuing chest pains. He died 20 days later, sparking a
murder investigation that has made the pair of boots a central
piece of evidence.
Officials say the
investigation into the fight continues, but a death certificate
released last month shows Mr. McMullen died of complications from
a ruptured spleen due to blunt impact. It's the first official
document that states he died from what it described as a scuffle
in the jail. The manner of death is listed as homicide.
In letters he sent
home, Mr. McMullen had written about the fights in the Worcester
County Jail and House of Correction, where he was serving a
six-month sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol,
second offense. He told of how inmates would beat him and steal
his things. In one case, an inmate urinated on his bed.
And on the morning
of Feb. 3, Mr. McMullen wrote once again of getting beat up, this
time by an inmate who called himself Jesus. He said he was kicked
while lying in his bunk.
"Spent the morning
at St. Vincents hospital getting stiches (sic) 13 upper lip split
open," he wrote. "Anyway still have all my teeth. Nobody has been
able to knock those out yet!"
It is believed to be
the last letter he wrote before returning to the hospital, where
he died after falling into a coma. Mr. McMullen also suffered from
cirrhosis of the liver, which could have exacerbated his spleen
injuries, the death certificate said. His sister authorized
disconnection of his life support after doctors told her there was
nothing more they could do.
the jail confiscated Mr. Hadley's boots when they filed a charge
of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a shod foot, in
Clinton District Court. Jail officials have since said that the
boots are not steel-toed, but have confirmed they are black
construction-like boots. In court records, one sheriff
detailed how Mr. Hadley allegedly kicked Mr. McMullen in the mouth
"while wearing a pair of black boots." The fight began after Mr.
McMullen accused his cellmate of stealing his playing cards.
The assault and
battery case in Clinton District Court is pending, but Mr.
McMullen's death opened a new investigation, with the possibility
of more charges. Mr. Hadley, 49, formerly of Rhode Island, was in
jail awaiting burglary charges, and is still being held on
$200,000 cash bail on the new charge and during the new
Sheriff Guy W.
Glodis called for a second-degree murder charge the day after Mr.
McMullen died, saying it would be appropriate for what he called
an unprovoked attack.
John J. Conte, however, has said he will decide what charge, if
any, is appropriate, saying he would conduct an in-depth probe
that would look beyond the fight and the boots and include how
jail and hospital staff responded. Mr. Conte did not return a call
for comment to his office yesterday, but has said the
investigation is complex and continuing.
deputy superintendent of the jail, said yesterday that his
investigators are working closely with detectives assigned to Mr.
Conte's office. "We look forward to the appropriate charges being
filed when the district attorney deems the case is ready," he
Still, in the days
after the fight, before Mr. McMullen died, the jail had moved
forward with its own case, accusing Mr. Hadley of beating his
cellmate over playing cards in what was considered another fight
at the jail.
"The above named
defendant (Hadley) did kick McMullen twice in the mouth with black
boots on his feet," one jail deputy sheriff wrote in a court
filing, dated five days after the fight. "This assault caused
McMullen to go to (a hospital). ... McMullen returned to the
hospital on 2-3-05 with internal bleeding, and is presently in the
Worcester Telegram & Gazette