To write this series, Real Change (Street Roots sister paper in Seattle) staff reporter Rosette Royale obtained close to 600 pages of documents from the Department of Corrections (DOC) through multiple public disclosure requests. Supporting documentation was also obtained through numerous websites. Interviews were conducted with more than 20 individuals, including family, friends, former prisoners, mental-health professionals, and DOC personnel.
Any quotes attributed to Bret derive from DOC documents where he was directly quoted by others, department forms written in his own hand, or letters he’d mailed. Thoughts attributed to him stem from descriptions others made of him, whether in interviews or as part of DOC documents.
Descriptions of Longview and Kelso, WA, the Lewis and Clark Bridge, the home of Nancy and Clinton Erckenbrack come from a one-day visit the reporter made to southwestern Washington. Descriptions of Twin Rivers come from two separate visits to the prison made this past spring and summer. Descriptions of the Capitol Hill hotel he lived in upon his release are based upon numerous firsthand visits.
Descriptions of the Aurora Bridge and surrounding areas are based upon multiple firsthand visits the reporter made to the site. Measurements of the bridge either come from various websites or were ascertained through measurements conducted by the reporter himself. Other descriptions of Bret or his environs are based upon the memories of those who knew him.
The narrative of the last moments on the bridge stems from interviews, a police report of the incident, and a “Computer Assisted Dispatch,” a transcript of law enforcement communication in relation to the incident.
The series got its genesis from a police incident report printed in the Street Watch column of Real Change last autumn. The entire reporting process lasted more than seven months.