Inside the Snitch Tank. After his arrest for the worst mass shooting in Orange County, CA history, Scott Dekraai poured out his feelings to a jailhouse informant. But instead of nailing down a death-penalty conviction against a confessed killer who was arrested with murder weapons in his car, the bugging of Dekraai’s cell touched off a legal storm over prosecutorial misconduct and the misuse of jailhouse informants which has delayed justice and drawn national attention. The Orange County Register has set up an extensive website to accompany their ongoing investigation and report.
The Best American Crime Writing Series (renamed The Best American Crime Reporting in 2006) ran from 2002 to 2010 and presented the finest in true crime journalism. Many of the stories are available from the online magazines in which they were first printed or from other legitimate sources. Links to all 105 available stories appear below the fold. I have previously presented links to the stories from the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 editions. Some of those links have gone bad, so they have been reworked. [more inside]
The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.
Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.
Calvin Trillin profiles Edna Buchanan, Pulitzer Prize-winning crime reporter for the Miami Herald during its heyday.
MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
In 1994, the Tampa Bay Times published a riveting story about Kenneth Hardcastle. One of Tampa Bay's civic elites, Hardcastle also had a burgeoning crack addiction and a fondness for underage prostitutes. [more inside]
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series (direct links: 1, 2) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf) from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime," NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
"Homicide Watch is a community-driven reporting project covering every murder in the District of Columbia. Using original reporting, court documents, social media, and the help of victims’ and suspects’ friends, family, neighbors and others, we cover every homicide from crime to conviction." [more inside]
"...whatever job you take, you're going to spend a lot of time there. You should try to make it fun."
In 2007, the Madison (WI) Police Department hired their first civilian Public Information Officer: former reporter Joel DeSpain. Over the last five years, Mr. DeSpain has reportedly combined "humor, a flair for the dramatic and sense of the absurd", and turned the mundane Madison Police Blotter into an "art form and a thing of joy." So Why Has Madison Wisconsin Has Become the Weird News Capitol of the Midwest? Meet the United States’ most whimsical police reporter. (Last one's a gawker link. If you dislike their site / interface, have no fear: all reports in that article (plus four extras) can be found after the jump.) [more inside]
If you like real-life crime drama, Burgled in Philly, by John Davidson, will keep you occupied for a few minutes. [more inside]
Néo Fénéon: "Three thousand seven hundred dollars richer after stealing from the job, Marvin Williams, 25, of Brooklyn, went to urinate in a playground." - Items from the NYPD blotter remixed daily in the style of Félix Fénéon. (previously)
In 1994, Leon Dash, while still at the Washington Post, wrote a Pulitzer winning series of articles about a woman named Rosa Lee Cunningham. [more inside]
Crime: A Tale of Two Cities. When "The Wire" gained popularity in Great Britain, we were contacted by a London-based journalist who proposed a job swap. Mark Hughes, a crime reporter with The Independent, a national newspaper in the United Kingdom, wanted to come to Baltimore to see if the city’s police officers, drug dealers, prosecutors and politicians bore any resemblance to those on show. We agreed to complete the exchange by sending our police reporter, Justin Fenton, to London to compare crime trends. [more inside]
The 2009 anthology of The Best American Crime Reporting is out. Each year this series collects examples of exceptional and diverse true crime journalism. Many of the entries are available in their online magazines. Starting with "Dan P. Lee, Body Snatchers - Philadelphia magazine" (part of the story previously discussed here), a ghoulish tale of stolen corpses and the market behind him. [more inside]
Bill Moyers Journal, April 17, 2009 From crime beat reporter for the BALTIMORE SUN to award-winning screenwriter of HBO's critically-acclaimed The Wire, David Simon talks with Bill Moyers about inner-city crime and politics, storytelling and the future of journalism today. Sorry for the one link post.
Is the police blotter dying? Not so. In other parts of the world, the blotters are a little weird and violent. (nsfw)
Saddam's Confessions - Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator George Piro pretty fascinating.
The Homicide Report, by Jill Leovy: An L.A. Times blog built on the list of homicide victims reported to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office each week.
The Hard Road A very engrossing and well written series by three reporters of the St Petersburg Times who spent a year reporting on a hit-and-run case that shocked Tampa. This long, tragic narrative broken into five installments, explores what happened after Jennifer Porter, a quiet, unassuming 28-year-old schoolteacher, ran down four of Lisa Wilkins' children one evening in March 2004. [via]
If you watch television news stations, you've probably already heard that the latest missing white girl has been found. Naturally, the media is now obsessed with figuring out what led to the murder of the girl's parents. In the unending quest for information, TV news stations have shown the myspace pages of the two teens. And like many other teenagers, the two have xanga journals as well. But several sources, both blogs and mainstream news sites, have publicized the location of these pages. Is this responsible journalism?
Previously on MeFi: Blogging from prison; diary of a killer?
Previously on MeFi: Blogging from prison; diary of a killer?
Truman Capote's Blood Work Two soon-to-be released films on Truman Capote's life, Capote and Have You Heard? begin as the novelist drops into rural Kansas to begin work on what became "In Cold Blood". More inside.
Elliott could no longer bear the waste. He had six staff and a budget of £3.5m a year. He had a potential client group of 25,000 users ... but at the end of all his work and all that public money, the total number of detox beds he was able to provide was five. The Guardian reports from the front-line of the drugs war. (part two) You may have no interest in Drugs or the UK but read this superb piece for a profile of a bureaucracy in farcical, tragic, total collapse.
The Best Investigative Reporter You've Never Heard Of died Wednesday from a rare blood disease he picked up reporting in the slums of Bombay. Robert Friedman was beaten by religious zealots after writing about Rabbi Meir Kahane, had a contract taken out on his life after writing about "The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World" and got a Valentine's card threatening rape and murder after writing about Russian organized crime links to the NHL. This December article about the Israel/Palestine situation, which may be the last piece he wrote, is detailed, balanced and yet pulls no punches -- a good example of his hard-hitting style. His death leaves a gaping hole in journalism.
The Stanley Cup finals -- a perfect time to reflect on what we know about the extortion of former Eastern bloc players in the NHL by Russian organized crime groups. A 1999 Frontline/Fifth Estate joint investigation lays it out nicely, including an eye-opening interview with a U.S. sports marketer who was run out of the Russian hockey world by mob greed. Also check the story of investigative reporter Robert I. Friedman, author of the alarming (some say alarmist) book Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America, the subject of a detailed eXile review here.