By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
He knew he was risking the job in which he took so much pride, but that concern was overwhelmed by his desire. It was, in fact, no contest. "I thought, 'Something is happening here that shouldn't be happening,'" Tacher recalls of his mindset. "But the more I thought about stopping it, she would fulfill more in my life."
Tacher uses that word a lot: fulfill. He says Mora fulfills his soul. He can't explain it. It just is, he says.
His fellow deputies couldn't figure it out either. Tacher's coworkers were confounded by his obvious infatuation with the inmate and by his resultant actions.
Dep. Kathy Jackson-Hunsacker told internal investigators that it struck her as odd that Tacher would go back in Mora's private cell during the early morning hours, "all the way in the back, lights off, door closed."
One day Jackson-Hunsacker -- who nicknamed Tacher "Charmin" because he was so "soft" with the inmates -- mentioned this oddity to another deputy in the unit, Michael Sheffield. What, she asked, was Tacher doing with Mora?
"You probably don't want to know," was Sheffield's response.
Faced with complaints about Tacher leaving his post, jail Lt. Jorge Comacho interviewed Mora and other inmates about the situation and was told that Tacher was "extremely helpful and concerned about their welfare" and was simply helping non-English-speaking inmates. To Comacho it seemed like a typical case of Tacher being, well, Tacher, the good-hearted deputy. On October 5, 1998, Comacho cleared Tacher of wrongdoing, but the deputy was also banned from going into Unit Number Four and spending time with Mora.
Of course Tacher paid no attention to that directive, what with that unstoppable force working on him. And soon deputies were hearing rumors of touching and kissing between the two. Nobody at the jail knew that Tacher, whose own three children are grown, took custody of Mora's teenage son in January 1999.
Inmates later recounted how Tacher would bring Mora the accoutrements of love: candy, Pantene shampoo and conditioner, hair scrunchies, banana nut muffins, colored pencils, and a Walkman. Tacher denies that he brought in most of those things, though he does admit to the Walkman, which isn't listed as "contraband" in the jail's rules.
It wasn't totally one-sided -- Mora's relatives gave Tacher an emerald-encrusted gold cross, an objet d'amour that Tacher still cherishes.
In April 1999, as Tacher continued boldly defying the order not to associate with Mora, a formal internal investigation began.
"Well, they was kissing, lip to lip, tongue to tongue or whatever," inmate Mollie Everett told investigators in a sworn statement. "And after that, their passion went over. She sat on the stool and he removed his penis from his pants and she began to give oral sex."
Another inmate swore she saw the same thing, and another, Renee Bean, said she was "stunned" one morning when she saw Mora and Tacher kissing. From then on, Bean told investigators, Tacher paid for her silence by giving her Sweet'N Low packets and fresh coffee.
Tacher denies all of these allegations, saying he never improperly touched Mora. Instead he remembers a more innocent relationship, like the times they would spend all day looking at each other on opposite sides of the glass.
"We just looked into each other's eyes," he recalls. "You don't have to have sex with a person to love the person. You get to know the individual -- it's what's inside the individual, not the shell on the outside. We never even held hands."
And they'd talk.
"We'd talk about our past, who we are, what we are, what we want," he says. "We talked about religion. We talked about politics. We talked about news in the world, our parents, our future."
The investigation revealed that Mora made 71 phone calls to Tacher's home from jail in a two-month period. Mora told investigators in an interview on May 7, 1999, that she and Tacher spoke on the phone about "sexual things." She didn't go into detail about their sexual fantasies, however. Speaking through a translator, Mora summed it up by saying that she and Tacher had begun an "amorous relationship without ever breaking any of the rules of the jail."
"You love Deputy Tacher?" an investigator asked Mora.
"Sí," replied Mora, "very much. We're going to get married."
On the same day Mora was interviewed, Tacher resigned from the sheriff's office, beating BSO to the punch of firing him and saving his pension. "Deputy Tacher stated that he was in love with Dina Mora and had every intention of marrying her," Sgt. William Lawhorn wrote in his case summary. "He [said] that he did have custody of Mora's son and was in the process of adopting him. Further, he mentioned that when she was released from jail, they were going to enjoy his retirement and their marriage together in Costa Rica."
Then Tacher got the bad news: Not only would he not be allowed to marry Mora in the jail, he couldn't visit, either. In the end, though, these rules didn't stand a chance against that unstoppable force.
After Tacher quit BSO, he and Mora had to carry out their romance solely on the telephone. To this day they talk roughly three hours a day, sometimes more. "The phone is Dina's freedom," Tacher says. "This is the only freedom she has left. To be able to talk to me and her son on the phone. I go on the Internet and read her the Spanish newspaper. She likes me to read her novels in Spanish. And you don't know how many hours we have spent reading the Bible together."