Investigating the Cleveland missing and rescued women case
On Monday, three young Cleveland women who had been missing for nearly a decade were found alive and, according to authorities, appeared unharmed. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight were kidnapped and held for years as prisoners inside a house in Cleveland. Police arrested the house owner, Ariel Castro, 52, and his two brothers, Pedro Castro, 54 and Onil Castro, 50.
Journalists are already starting to uncover details about the case and the brothers. In the search for further context, property records, background searches and court records will be crucial. Below are some IRE resources, taken out from behind our member wall, to help reporters on deadline. Poynter also compiled a list of resources to help journalists investigating a story like this, including one reporter's explanation of how she used some of these tools for a story.
- Web tools for investigators
Learn what free online tools that will help you to enhance on your reporting and investigation. Get tips on social media searches, documents, Web scraping and visualizations.
- Cultivating sources and better interviewing
Discusses finding sources; persuading sources to help your investigation; getting sources to come to you; taking care of your sources; and tips for better interviewing.
- After breaking news: what's next?
This tipsheet is comprised of many useful web links covering topics of aviation accidents, automobiles and trucks, political campaign data, federal spending, U.S. court system, crime, business records, weather and more.
- Social media tools
Learn new ways to find sources, background people and companies, and break stories before the competition with this Powerpoint.
INVESTIGATING THE PROPERTY
- Land grab: property records tipsheet
11 tips for how to find more information on property records, from befriending your local planners, being on a first-name basis with your county assessor, checking delinquent property tax lists, and real estate conflicts of interest.
- Local property investigations
This is a detailed outline of how the Courier Journal did an investigation into one particularly negligent property owner. Schaver also includes links to help reporters out on a similar story.
- Backgrounding people
This tipsheet provides a list of resources to use when backgrounding individuals. Lyle's is careful to denote which resources are free vs. for a fee. Her list is broken down to include national resources (for the U.S.) and regional resources specific to New York state. She also gives phone service information for several international countries.
- Tools for the investigative education reporter
Recommended information ranges from state- and district-generated databases to contact information of school employees.
USING POLICE AND COURT RECORDS
- The Keys to the Courthouse
The author offers tips for developing the cops and courts beat. He suggests spending a lot of time at the court house and getting to know key players, like judges, baliffs, and law clerks. Burstein also discusses documents like search warrants and probable cause affidavits which are stored at the court house and could lead to good stoy ideas. Finally, the tipsheet includes some story ideas that go beyond the criminal trials one expects from a courts reporter.
- First Day on the Beat: Covering Cops
Offers a list of 15 items of vital importance when covering law enforcement - from obtaining lists of sworn officers to securing statistics regarding police officers' use of force.
- Unsung documents
This tipsheet provides information on how to find and effectively use documents in your reporting. It also give tips on working with material once you've obtained it.