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 "forensics" ...

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Graves of Shame

    In the summer of 2014, a team of forensic anthropologists gathered in Brooks County, Texas, to unearth mass graves containing the remains of hundreds of migrants who had died on their journey north. Reports emerged of bodies buried in kitchen trash bags and skulls wedged between coffins. Within days, the Texas Rangers were asked to investigate. But the probe found no wrongdoing. Investigative Fund reporting fellow John Carlos Frey finds that the Rangers investigator spent all of two days compiling the report and missed massive criminal wrongdoing. In a story for the Texas Observer, Frey uncovers an illegal failure to collect DNA samples and properly label remains. He finds bodies buried less than a foot underground, in violation of Texas law, and other graves containing commingled remains. These violations have made it nearly impossible for families to identify and properly bury their missing loved ones. As a result of the piece the cursory investigation performed by Texas Rangers was nullified, organizations protested, and state representatives vowed to strengthen existing law.
  • The Real CSI

    Evidence collected at crime scenes—everything from fingerprints to bite marks—is routinely called upon in the courtroom to prosecute the most difficult crimes and put the guilty behind bars. And though glamorized on commercial television, in the real world, it’s not so cut-and-dried. A joint investigation by FRONTLINE, ProPublica and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley examines the reliability of the science behind forensics in The Real CSI. From the sensational murder trial of Casey Anthony to the credentialing of forensic experts, “The Real CSI” documents how a field with few uniform standards and unproven science can undermine the search for justice. The investigation follows a landmark study by the National Academy of Sciences that called into question the tenets of forensic science. For the first time, Harry T. Edwards, a senior federal appellate court judge and co-chairman of the report, sits for an interview to discuss what the report means. And, FRONTLINE examines one of the most high-profile terrorist investigations since 9/11: the case of Brandon Mayfield, an attorney who was wrongfully identified and arrested as a suspect in the Madrid commuter train bombings after the FBI erroneously matched his fingerprint to a partial print found at the scene. In “The Real CSI,” FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman finds serious flaws in some of the best known tools of forensic science, wide inconsistencies in how forensic evidence is presented in the courtroom and no system in place for establishing the credibility of so-called “forensic experts” whose testimony can lead to a conviction.
  • Forensic Science

    A nine-month investigation found that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic evidence might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled, forcing innocent defendants to stay incarcerated or on parole. The Post identified two District of Columbia men convicted largely on the flawed forensic work and testimony of FBI hair analysts who wrongly placed them at crime scenes. Since the Post report, both men have had their convictions vacated and judges have taken the unusual steps of fully exonerating the men so they can seek compensation from the government. As a result of The Post’s work, the Justice Department is reviewing more than 21,000 FBI Laboratory cases handled before 2000 to identify convictions that might merit exoneration, re-trial or re-testing of evidence.
  • Cause of Death: Negotiable

    This investigation focused on the practice of a death investigator in Bosnia. Despite questions of his practice, he continued to work and was documented soliciting money in exchange for favorable cause of death findings.
  • The Forensic Test

    Dennis Lawley was found guilty of murder in 1989 but new forensic methods are calling his conviction into question 19 years later.
  • The Mysterious Death of Janie Ward

    This hour-long report is a result of a five-year investigation into the death of a 16-year-old girl 20 years ago in a small town in the Ozarks. It's about two daughters -- one wealthy and popular (a cheerleader and beauty queen); the other poor and self-conscious. It's about two fathers -- one a powerful judge who allegedly shielded his daughter from the law he's sworn to uphold; the other a bail bondsman who is trying to avenge his daughter's death. And it's about one family's fight for justice against what they believe is a corrupt judicial system that closed ranks around the powerful judge to cover-up a murder. When 16-year-old Jamie Ward fell off a 9-inch porch in the woods near Marshall, Ark., on September 9, 1989, her parents refused to blieve that the fall had killed their healthy teenager. Instead, they began to suspect to suspect she was murdered by the judge's daughter. After years of demanding an investigation into her death, an independent medical examiner associated with Parents for Murdered Children exhumed Janie's body a second time for an extremely rare third autopsy. Because the case was 20 years old, most of the files were not digital; rather, the investigation focused on old-fashioned reporting: finding and interviewing eyewitnesses (all of whom had not been reinterviewed since the original investigation); analyzing inconsistencies in the witness statements, double-checking the forensics with independent experts.
  • Who Killed Her Daughter?

    "The package of stories focused on the unsolved slaying of four young women within central Virginia that occurred within a seven-month span in 1996."
  • Every Contact Leaves a Trace

    "This book is an oral history that focuses on the realities of crime scene investigation, based on extensive interviews with eighty forensic experts throughout the U.S. The major finding was that the depictions of crime scene investigation in TV shows such as 'CSI' and its many off-shoots have created a set of expectations, on the part of the publi, jurors, and police, that has had the unintended effect of compromising both timely crime scene analysis and fair jury trials."