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.

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  • Blowing the Whistle on Aviation

    Our exclusive eleven-month investigation into aviation safety uncovered a corrupt culture of safety at major airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration that mechanics and FAA employees feared could be putting the flying public at risk. Before there was any reporting on the FAA related to Boeing’s 737 Max, we explored the overly cozy relationship between the FAA and airlines - highlighting the FAA’s lack of oversight on regulatory issues that would later lead to hundreds of deaths overseas and the grounding of all 737 Max airplanes.
  • 48 Hours: The Hollywood Ripper

    “48 Hours: The Hollywood Ripper” follows CBS News correspondent Maureen Maher’s eleven-year investigation into Michael Gargiulo, a now-convicted serial killer known as the Hollywood Ripper.
  • Puerto Rico After the Storms: Recovery and Fraud

    U.S. taxpayer are footing the biggest bill ever for a natural disaster, $91 billion, going to a government mired in corruption and under FBI investigation. We are the only news program that we know of to tackle and extensively report on how much has been promised and how little has actually been received in the wake of hurricanes Maria and Irma. We travelled to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, learning there has been a great deal of misreporting and misunderstanding about these numbers, which were not easily accessible. To get at the true amounts, we obtained and examined federal and territory documents, pressed the governor’s office, and interviewed officials responsible for the aid including Puerto Rico’s top hurricane recovery official and FEMA’s top official in Puerto Rico. During our visit, there was a popular uprising against the government followed by the governor's resignation, and additional FBI arrests of U.S. and Puerto Rican officials and contractors.
  • Hard Rock Hotel Collapse

    When an 18-story hotel under construction collapsed catastrophically on a Saturday morning in October, we immediately began trying to understand what went wrong. Initially, this involved sharing video of the collapse with experts to seek opinions about possible causes. In the days and weeks that followed, we spoke with workers who were on the job and reviewed building plans and inspection reports to determine where missteps were made. We also uncovered a video, narrated in Spanish by a worker on the site, that was posted several days before the collapse, in which the worker spotlights a number of alarming flaws in the building.
  • University of Utah Student Killed; Who Is Murder Suspect Ayoola Ajayi?

    Twelve days after the disappearance of University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck this summer, and following an exhaustive investigation by law enforcement, police arrested and formally charged the suspect in her death, Ayoola Adisa Ajayi. Ajayi faces four charges in connection to Lueck’s violent murder, including aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping. KSL Investigators knew Ajayi was the person of interest in this case because he owned the small property in Salt Lake where multiple search warrants were executed in the case prior to his arrest. Before authorities released his name to the public, KSL Investigators worked to learn everything they could about the 31-year-old immigrant, originally from Africa, so we could break the investigation as soon as the suspect’s name was released. Although much of a person’s immigration status is private information, representatives with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Ajayi is a lawful legal resident and he was at the time of his arrest. However, the KSL Investigators exposed how he came to this country and revealed possible oversight by Utah State University and the federal government when he dropped out of school a number of times and was posting online about seeking to find a wife to keep his citizenship status.
  • Inside Texas' botched voter-rolls review

    The press release landed late on a Friday afternoon: State officials had found 95,000 “noncitizens” on the Texas voter rolls — and 58,000 of those people had voted. The reaction from GOP state leaders, who have long pushed unsubstantiated claims of rampant voter fraud in Texas, was swift and certain. “VOTER FRAUD ALERT,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted. “Thanks to Attorney General Paxton and the Secretary of State for uncovering and investigating this illegal vote registration,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted, adding, “I support prosecution where appropriate.” Even President Donald Trump chimed in. “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.” The state’s claims immediately raised red flags for our voting rights reporter, Alexa Ura. Ura knew the state had used driver’s license records — where applicants must reveal their citizenship status — to cross-reference the voter rolls and flag potential illegitimate voters. She also knew that in Texas, immigrants only have to renew their driver’s license every few years — meaning many thousands of people flagged by the state’s review had almost certainly become naturalized citizens before they registered and voted. Her breaking news story on state leaders’ “voter fraud” announcement explained those flawed methods and cast serious doubts on their claims. But her follow-up reporting — dozens of explanatory and investigative stories over as many weeks — had far greater impact than merely debunking irresponsible claims.
  • 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.
  • The Death of a State Trooper

    Early on a Saturday morning in late March of 2019, a man drove the wrong way down a suburban Chicago expressway and crashed into another driver, killing them both. It’s the kind of news story that – unfortunately -- we all report too often. It’s also the kind of story that NBC5 Investigates regularly checks out, to see what might be behind the breaking news. In this case, we quickly discovered a man – Dan Davies -- who should never have been on the road, because of a system that simply (and repeatedly) didn’t work, eventually resulting in that early- morning crash. The man Davies killed: An Illinois State Trooper named Gerald Ellis, who was heading home to his family after his late-night shift. One witness at the scene said Trooper Ellis saved the lives of others, by steering into Davies’ oncoming car. Nearly every day over the two weeks following that fatal crash, NBC5 Investigates uncovered new court records and police reports, blood-alcohol analyses and dash cam video, social-media posts and States Attorney documents, all adding to a damning pile of evidence showing that Davies should have been behind bars the night of the crash, save for a series of mistakes by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Yet, every day, when we tried to get answers from that State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, there was only radio silence. The lack of response was so galling – especially from a taxpayer-funded office accountable to the public -- that we documented, online and in real time, the actual reporting process of our daily phone calls and emails, which simply sought the most basic answers on what her office did and didn’t do, in a case that clearly and ultimately resulted in the unnecessary death of an Illinois State trooper. Ultimately, Foxx was forced to respond and – finally – take responsibility for the mistakes that allowed Dan Davies to be on the road that night.
  • Pentagon secretly struck back against Iranian cyberspies targeting U.S. ships

    In the middle of June, tensions were rising between the United States and Iran. Iran had attacked oil tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, and then downed an expensive, high-tech Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone flying over the Strait, upping the ante of the conflict. Given previous rhetoric from Trump administration officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against the Iranian regime, the decision to exit the Iran deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the increasingly heavy sanctions on Iran, the Yahoo News team was monitoring for chances to report in more depth on specific Iranian capabilities as well as U.S. plans to counter them. Following the attack on the U.S. drone, Yahoo News began communicating with sources who had extensive detail on a specific unit within the Iranian military in the cross-hairs of the U.S. military, a unit that had advanced its cyber capabilities to the point that it was able to track nearly all ships traveling through the Strait through both social engineering, or pretending to be attractive women engaging with service members traveling on the ships, to actually compromising ship GPS data websites in order to digitally monitor their paths. In the course of reporting, Yahoo News discovered a key, news breaking event—that just hours prior, the U.S. Cyber Command had launched a retaliatory strike aimed at limiting the capabilities of the specific Iranian cyber group the team had already been investigating. Yahoo was the first to break the news of the retaliatory strike, leading dozens of major news outlets to race to match the story. However, given the fact Yahoo News was investigating details into the cyber unit, our story was not only first but best and most detailed. The story demonstrates our ability to jump into the news cycle, provide key breaking news to our readers, as well as dig deep into illuminating new details. The story also revealed that Iranian capabilities to intercept and down drones to study them for espionage purposes was highly advanced, a fact previously unknown. Given President Trump’s recent decision to authorize a strike to kill IRGC Commander Qasem Suleimani, our reporting will continue to provide value to readers, analysts, and other interested parties hoping to better understand Iranian capabilities and how the U.S. might respond to them.
  • "Healthy Holly" and University of Maryland Medical System Investigation

    The “Healthy Holly” scandal began with a suggestion from a source, a state legislator who told Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater she thought there might be some irregular contracting practices going on at the University of Maryland Medical System. Broadwater, busy covering the General Assembly session, filed a public records request. The documents showed that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other members of the hospital network’s board of directors had no-bid contracts with the medical system -- though the extent of those contracts, especially Pugh's, were not fully described. Broadwater's story -- written quickly as a daily as soon as he received the documents -- was breaking news that got the attention of Maryland's political establishment: University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals. Immediately, Broadwater and other Baltimore Sun reporters followed their instincts and tips that were coming in -- including that Pugh had failed to print many of the books she’d been paid to produce, while thousands of others were sitting unread in a Baltimore school system warehouse. Meanwhile, Sun reporters pulled ethics forms, poured over tax records, filed public information requests and worked sources, breaking story after story that exposed a widening scandal that rocked the state of Maryland, perhaps more than any other series of articles in decades. Their work led to the resignation of the mayor, the UMMS CEO and other top officials, including every member of the medical system's board of directors.