Report: Former New York Times reporter took her own life

By Cadence Bambenek | February 26, 2016

A former New York Times reporter and UW-Madison graduate living in the Dominican Republic committed suicide, The New York Times reported Friday.

Sarah Kershaw’s body was found Monday morning in her home in the northern beach town of Sosua near the town of Puerto Plata.

An initial report from the Dominican National Police indicated that Kershaw was strangled and that her husband, former Capital Times reporter William Paul Norton, was being held for questioning. But the Times, quoting Puerto Plata prosecutor Osvaldo Bonilla, reported that Norton has been released without charges.

Officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before determining the cause of death, the Times reported. But the newspaper said Kershaw was suffering from a debilitating illness, occipital neuralgia, and told friends that she had intended to end her life.

Kershaw and Norton met as undergraduates while working together at The Daily Cardinal, one of UW-Madison’s student papers. They were married in February 2014.

In an email to the Wisconsin State Journal, Norton called his wife “a reporter through-and-through.”

Before Kershaw’s illness was diagnosed, the couple moved to the Dominican Republic to regroup and recover, Norton said. She was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia in 2015.

Kershaw received her master’s degree from Columbia University and worked as a reporter for The New York Times between 2000 and 2011. At the time of her death, she was freelancing for the Washington Post and working on a piece for The Atlantic, her husband said.

“What drove Sarah’s incredible journalism was a concern for public service,” Norton said. “She put her beating heart and her altruistic soul into every word of journalism that she wrote. As for me, all I can say is that the well of tears in me has no bottom.”

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