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 rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "attempt" ...

  • Trump & Ukraine: Fact and Fiction

    The President’s men, the Vice President’s son and a single phone call: the real story of what happened in Ukraine and why it led to impeachment hearings. As the rumors and accusations surrounding President Trump’s involvement in Ukraine started to swirl, NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel travelled to Ukraine to talk to the key players on the ground to tell the story of why the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Joe Biden’s son was really fired. Engel and his team in Ukraine secured the first broadcast interview with the man central to the story – the Ukrainian former Prosecutor Yuri Leshenko. He revealed that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was applying pressure for an investigation to be reopened, in an apparent attempt to dig for dirt on a political rival. He told NBC exclusively that far from being a one-off conversation, the two had spoken “around ten times”. This information was picked up and widely reported by other media.
  • Guns in Airports, Passengers Packing Heat

    2018 set a record for people trying to carry guns through airport TSA checkpoints. 4,239 guns were found in carry-on bags at airports across the country, that’s 12 guns every day. 86% of those guns were loaded. Our 11-month investigation focused on who was attempting to take firearms through security checkpoints and examined why there has been such a sharp increase in the numbers of weapons found in airports in recent years.
  • Almost Forbidden

    As vaping-related youth nicotine addiction surged across the United States, we exposed a key political decision to ignore the clear warning signs years before the crisis. Government documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times revealed that, four years ago, the Food and Drug administration attempted to ban vaping flavors that were hooking young teenagers to nicotine. But after a deluge of over 100 lobbyists visited the White House, senior political officials overruled experts at the FDA and eliminated the flavor ban, along with much of the scientific evidence calling for it. Later that year, the national youth vaping rate skyrocketed.
  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • 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.
  • Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't

    The book revisits the murder conviction of Jo Ann Parks, sentenced to life in prison without parole for allegedly murdering her three young children in 1989by setting fire to her home and trapping them inside. In re-investigating the case, the author found flawed forensic science, false and contradictory testimony, and strong evidence of cognitive bias throughout the case, including use of an unreliable informant who later recanted, and sworn expert testimony that the fire began because Parks supposedly constructed a crude “incendiary device” by deliberately overloading a sabotaged electrical extension cord. Testing later proved the cord did not and could not start a fire. Information in the book has since been added to Parks’ existing habeas corpus petition filed by the California Innocence Project, now being considered by the state Supreme Court. Additional findings suggests the problems with flawed forensic science and cognitive bias in general, and in arson investigation in particular, is widespread and has led to other wrongful convictions. Correcting the use of flawed forensic and expert testimony is hindered by the legal system’s reliance on precedent, which slows and sometimes prevents the correction of scientifically dubious ideas used to win convictions. Nascent attempts to study and change this tendency to prolong the use of flawed forensic science initiated by the Obama Administration have been shut down by the Trump Administration.
  • Mafia Spies: The Inside Story of the CIA, Gangster, JFK and Castro

    MAFIA SPIES tells the story of America’s first known attempt at state-sanctioned assassination: how the CIA recruited two top gangsters, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, in a plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the Cold War. Using recently declassified documents, MAFIA SPIES reveals many details about the US clandestine military effort from a hidden CIA base in Florida to get rid of Castro and, even more remarkably, how Castro managed to avoid getting killed with the help of a Soviet-trained Cuban spy network and double agents placed in Florida. Using FBI and police records, MAFIA SPIES also points to mobster Santo Trafficante as the likely mastermind in the unsolved murders of Giancana and Roselli, as the proverbial “last one standing” in this complex spy tale.
  • Newsday Investigation: Pathway to Power

    In a panoramic, 30,000-word narrative, reporters exposed the underpinnings of Long Island’s corrupt political system through the life of a onetime street hoodlum who would eventually own a castle-like estate that became the Island’s unofficial political clubhouse and the site of a startling attempt on his life. Drilling deep below decades of numbing public scandals, the project is the defining document of how local power works on Long Island, how the public gets exploited and why unscrupulous operators persistently prevail.
  • Simon & Schuster: A Deal with the Devil

    A Deal with the Devil chronicles the journey of two investigative journalists as they search for answers about one of the longest-running mail frauds in history. The scam centers around a mysterious psychic named Maria Duval, whose name and face have become infamous to sick and elderly victims all around the world, who have sent in millions of dollars in response to bogus promises made by letters allegedly signed by Duval. Global investigators have spent decades trying to stop the fraud, but when those efforts failed and they couldn’t determine who this woman was -- or if she was even real – authors Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken made it their mission to get to the bottom of this notorious scam once and for all. Their hunt takes readers on twists and turns as they discover key orchestrators of the fraud hiding away in places like Monaco and Thailand, and as they get farther than any law enforcement has -- even traveling to France in an attempt to confront the psychic herself. Investigative reporter Bethany McLean called the book “a personal how-to guide for investigative journalists, a twisted tale of a scam of huge proportions and a really good read.” NYU Journalism Professor Adam Penenberg, who famously exposed journalist fraudster Stephen Glass, said, “Journalists Ellis and Hicken out-sleuthed professional law enforcement in unraveling the mystery of a $200 million global scam. What they have wrought would have made a gripping novel. The fact that every word is true is what makes this book downright shocking.” Other endorsements came from NBC business anchor Ali Velshi and crime fiction writer Megan Abbott.
  • Reason Magazine: Chicago Impounds

    This investigation centered on Chicago’s aggressive vehicle impound program, how it intertwines with civil asset forfeiture and the city’s attempts to shrink its budget deficits, the low standards of evidence required to impound a car, and the impact of hefty impound fines on Chicago’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents.