OGDEN -- A small group of female Weber County Jail inmates has had enough of the badmouthing of police by the criminal community after last week's shootout left one officer dead and five others wounded.
The six signed a letter to the editor, with special praise for Jared Francom, the officer who was buried Wednesday.
"We were in lockdown but we could still see the TV from our cells, so we watched the funeral. And we just cried and cried," said Ashley Leishman, 28, an admitted meth addict.
"I just kept thinking of two little girls without their dad."
Normally, she said, someone in their pod of 40 women would change the channel.
"They'll say, 'He's a cop, screw him,'ââ" Leishman said. "I've been arguing with them over it. There are heartless, heartless girls in here."
Leishman mailed the letter signed by her and five neighboring cellmates: Donna Duran, Annora Smith, Lisa Timbrel, Jessica Hinojosa and Jessica Duran.
"We have been praying for the families of those wounded, and especially Francom's," it reads.
"Many of us in here was brought here by Francom and are saddened ... Francom didn't ruin our lives, he saved us, he brought us out of the streets from doing evil and wrong things such as drugs and he rescued us from the devil. That's how we look at it.
"Some of the inmates talk bad but, all we can do is pray for them inmates. Francom saved us and our families. He is our hero."
Leishman, in and out of jail with her drug problem since she turned 21, met Francom several times. She was the only one of the six to come out of the cell for an interview after the letter arrived Friday at the Standard-Examiner.
Leishman first met Francom when he arrested her in June in a raid at a downtown Ogden motel where the Weber-Morgan Narcotic Strike Force kicked in three motel room doors.
She was charged with possession of paraphernalia and giving false information to a police officer when she lied about her name. Francom drove her to jail.
"I'd never really talked to a cop who cared before," she said. "He wasn't a POS to me, and he didn't make me feel like a POS."
Francom, she said, asked her why she was doing drugs. "I said I don't know. He said, 'That doesn't seem like a very good reason.'ââ"
She felt his interest was sincere and that he wasn't recruiting her as an informant.
She'd been down that road before, she said, agreeing to it with another strike force officer so she could run out on him and avoid arrest.
Francom, she said, "was really interested in how my life was, like he really cared. He asked me, 'Where's your kids?' That made me cry."
She has six children.
"He told me there's a better life out there. He asked me about the people I ran with. 'Do you think they care about you?' I just cry when I think about it now. I'd like to be able to tell him he was right.
"Then he told me, 'Good luck.' Cops never do that after they book you."
In and out of jail with an adult record dating back to age 21, she still ran on Francom. She skipped her sentencing hearing in August, and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
Francom was there when she was finally picked up in December, and she tried to give officers a fake name, like she had in June. "He just laughed and said, 'I know who she is.'ââ"
She has also been charged with a new crime from that month, illegally selling a gun, which may go to federal court.
"I didn't do it," she said. "We're going to fight it."
The charge has made her ineligible for bail.
Francom's picture has been in newspaper and television coverage every day since the Jan. 4 shootings, so Leishman and her little group -- active jail Bible students -- cry every day, she said. "We're all cried out.
"He was a person I could talk to, that would help me. Not just a jerk officer that came to raid me.
"He didn't want me back on the street. ... He believed you could change. 'No one can change you but you,' he told me. Every time I see his picture, I remember him saying that ... it was a conversation, not a lecture. He was actually asking me questions."
Her group, she said, prays for the officers and their families every day. "Every morning and every night."