updated 01/18/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/18/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST
In 1985 Dotson and his supposed rape victim, Cathleen Crowell Webb, made headlines when she recanted the testimony that had sent him to prison. Webb, now a New Hampshire housewife, gave an exclusive interview to Tamarkin explaining why she had previously lied about being raped. By then Dotson had served six years of a 25-to-50-year sentence, and Illinois Governor James Thompson ordered him released on parole. Two years later he was jailed again, charged with assaulting his wife. While in prison he frequently telephoned Tamarkin, and when he was released a second time on Christmas Eve, Tamarkin says she was not surprised that he was quickly arrested yet again following a bar fight. "In our early conversations he was really low-key, naive. I could never understand his lack of anger," she says. "But gradually I have gotten an in-depth look at his anguish, frustration and despair."
A Chicago native and former high school English teacher, Tamarkin has always brought a particular passion to her reporting. In 1975 she traveled to Saigon as a single mother with her 4-year-old daughter, Elisa, to write free-lance articles about the war's final weeks. Married the next year to then Chicago Daily News foreign correspondent Bob Tamarkin, she lived in Thailand and in Nairobi, Kenya, before returning with him to Chicago in 1977. She has had two plays produced in Chicago and is the coauthor of a book on Chicago educator Marva Collins. Visits to prospective colleges with Elisa, now 17, have kept Tamarkin busy in recent months, but her reporter's notebook is never far away. "I have been accused of being too serious and obsessive about my work," she concedes, "but I like a story that has a risk element, a certain danger."