Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

  • Unchecked Power

    After losing hard-fought reelection campaigns, Alabama’s sheriffs often turn their attention to undermining their successors in ways that abuse the public trust. On his way out the door, one sheriff drilled holes in government-issued cell phones, while another pocketed public money intended to feed inmates. The ousted leaders dumped jail food down the drain and burned through tens of thousands of sheriff's office dollars by purchasing thousands of rolls of toilet paper. These are among the findings of my six-month investigation into these practices for AL.com and the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. In June 2019, I chronicled the actions of nine defeated Alabama sheriffs, seven of whom allegedly destroyed public property, stole public funds and/or wasted taxpayer money after their electoral defeats. These stories were made possible by my realization that incoming sheriffs were often more willing to talk on the record about the bad behavior and criminality of predecessors who had taken advantage of them than they would be under other circumstances.
  • Bribery Division

    The Bribery Division, an international investigation into Latin America’s largest construction company, reveals fresh evidence of hundreds of millions of dollars in suspicious payments linked to major infrastructure projects. Brazilian multinational Odebrecht has been implicated in a cash-for-contracts scandal that the U.S. Department of Justice has described as “the largest foreign bribery case in history.” The Bribery Division investigation unveils dramatic new information in taking readers inside the belly of the beast: Odebrecht’s Division of Structured Operations, a specialized unit created for the primary purpose of managing the company’s graft. A team of more than 50 journalists across the Americas, led by ICIJ, examined more than 13,000 Odebrecht documents from a secret communication platform used by the Structured Operations unit. The team’s sprawling expose revealed Odebrecht’s cash-for-contracts operation was even bigger than the company had acknowledged to prosecutors and had involved prominent figures and massive public works projects not mentioned in the criminal cases or other official inquiries to date.
  • Easy Targets

    There are some sixty-three thousand licensed gun dealers in the U.S.—nearly twice the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. But, unlike other businesses that deal in dangerous products, such as pharmacies or explosives makers, most gun stores face no legal requirements to secure their merchandise. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in gun-store thefts. This story focuses on a group of thieves who preyed on gun stores in North Carolina, stealing more than two hundred weapons over a four-month period. The Trace and The New Yorker relied on thousands of public records and more than fifty interviews to track these guns through a network of black-market profiteers.
  • Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia

    “Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia” exposes a massive outflow of dark money from Kyrgyzstan, one of the world’s poorest nations. Reporters revealed how, over the span of five years, more than $700 million were funnelled out of the country — and across the world — by a single man: a self-confessed money launderer named Aierken Saimaiti. Saimaiti was murdered during the course of the reporting. But before his death, he provided reporters with a trove of documents that enabled them to piece together where this money came from, how it was moved abroad, and where much of it ended up.
  • Unsolved: The Devil You Know

    The body of Fr. Alfred Kunz, his throat slit, was found on the floor of St. Michael School in Dane, Wisconsin, on March 4, 1998. Twenty years later, the murder remains unsolved. Kunz was a conservative cleric and exorcist who clung to the Latin Mass and preached of a vengeful God. Some believed his death was linked to his battle against evil. Others believed his all-too-human flaws were to blame. The murder has never been solved, largely because police spent decades going after the wrong man, teacher Brian Jackson, our investigation found. Police never impounded Jackson’s car or searched it for trace evidence. Within hours of the murder, he was able to drive it out of the school parking lot. One detective who worked on the case for years, Kevin Hughes, set his sights on Jackson and refused to glance in any other direction. Ten years ago, Hughes’ lieutenant told reporters police knew who the killer was, but that the district attorney wouldn’t charge him. Their attempts to build a case against Jackson rather than remaining open to other theories may have allowed valuable clues to go unnoticed, the sheriff acknowledged during Barton’s investigation that became Unsolved: The Devil You Know. After about two years, the investigation stalled. Continuity disappeared as the sheriff’s department assigned new detectives to the case every few years. Over the past two decades, five different people have served as lead investigator. The case file consists of thousands of pages — and counting — snapped into 40 three-ring binders. The sheriff can’t name anyone working for the department today who has read them all.
  • In the Dark

    “In the Dark” was a narrative investigative series, providing the anatomy of the faulty police investigation into the 1994 slayings of a young mother and her toddler son, Stacy Falcon Dewey and Jacob Dewey. The investigation allowed the truth to slip through the cracks despite DNA evidence that had linked a convicted murderer to the crime scene. The story uncovered emails and other records that showed how neglect and indifference by forensics examiners and prosecutors delayed the case, leaving the victims’ unwitting family to suffer for years without answers.
  • A Forgotten Crisis

    Melissa, Tara and Amanda interviewed dozens of military spouses, across every branch, all over the country. Then they cross-referenced their stories to identify the biggest problems and gaps in the system. Finally, they tracked down domestic violence experts, military leaders and others to add critical context and comment. It took over a year to report. The result was five articles that dug into the challenges faced by domestic violence victims in the military: a structure that favors the abuser in which commanders determine if a crime has been committed, a family advocacy program that, in some instances, upholds outdated beliefs about gender roles, and a lack of support for victims who face enormous financial consequences if they choose to leave their partners. HuffPost’s investigation found that service members are rarely investigated or punished for acts of domestic violence. Because of this lack of accountability, many victims we interviewed are still afraid of their former partners. Some have been unable to get protective orders because there is no official record of their partner’s abuse, as paperwork does not travel seamlessly from the military world to the civilian one.
  • An Innocent Man?

    Newsday’s multi-media investigation “An Innocent Man?” was the first to reveal widespread wrongdoing by Suffolk law-enforcement authorities in the 1975 Keith Bush murder conviction, one of the longest-running “innocent man” cases in U.S. history. In a year-long investigation, Newsday reporter Thomas Maier detailed: how police allegedly beat a false confession out of then-17-year-old Bush for the 1975 sex-related murder of schoolmate Sherese Watson; how forensic experts offered flawed evidence about Bush’s guilt and later lost the alleged murder weapon; how the prosecution’s main witness against Bush later recanted and said she made up all of her testimony; how DNA evidence pointing to Bush’s innocence was rejected; and, mostly significantly, how Bush’s trial prosecutor covered-up evidence of another potential suspect, John W. Jones Jr., who placed himself at the murder scene. That evidence about Jones remained a secret and Bush was convicted and sent to prison for 33 years. Newsday’s investigation began in June 2018 and the resulting 15,000-word print report and an accompanying documentary were published together in May 2019. Shortly afterward, a report by the current Suffolk County district attorney concluded that Bush had been wrongly convicted and a judge vacated his sentence – 44 years later. Several follow-ups by Newsday detailed reaction to the Bush case and were reflected in an updated documentary, written by Maier and edited by Newsday owner Patrick Dolan, which was posted on December 31, 2019. Maier’s painstaking work – which involved dozens of interviews and thousands of pages of legal documents – shed light on a tragic incident in the past and helped result in other similar cases receiving a thorough investigation.
  • Cops and Robbers

    This series charts the path of perhaps the most corrupt officer to wear a Baltimore Police badge, from his history of ignored complaints of abuse and untruthfulness to showing the depths of crimes uncovered by a federal investigation, including drug trafficking and robbery. The story maps out how the corruption was not an isolated event confined to a particular unit, but rather ingrained in the culture of “plainclothes” police units long relied on to combat crime. It exposes new allegations, and educates readers who might otherwise not understand the negative effects of aggressive policing employed in Baltimore’s most high-crime neighborhoods.
  • The Hacker Who Took Down a Country

    The story chronicled how one hacker took nearly a whole country offline and revealed, for the first time, how and why he did it. Our reporting showed that Daniel Kaye was a mercenary, that he’d been paid to carry out the attack by the CEO of a large African telecommunications company, who had since gone into hiding. The story gave an unprecedented insight into the world of darkweb hackers and the unscrupulous figures who hire them.