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 "violence" ...

  • The Deadliest Place in Mexico

    The Juarez Valley, a narrow corridor of green farmland carved from the Chihuahuan desert along the Rio Grande, was once known for its cotton, which rivaled Egypt’s. But that was before the Juarez cartel moved in to set up a lucrative drug smuggling trade. “The Deadliest Place in Mexico” explores untold aspects of Mexico’s drug war as it has played out in the small farming communities of this valley. The violence began in 2008, when the Sinaloa cartel moved in to take over the Juarez cartel’s turf. The Mexican government sent in the military to quell the violence — but instead the murder rate exploded. While the bloodshed in the nearby City of Juarez attracted widespread media attention, the violence spilling into the rural Juarez Valley received far less, eve as the killings began to escalate in brutal ways. Community advocates, elected officials, even police officers were shot down in the streets. Several residents were stabbed in the face with ice picks. By 2009, the valley, with a population of 20,000, had a murder rate six times higher than Juarez itself. Newspapers began to call the rural farming region the “Valley of Death.” This investigation uses extensive Freedom of Information Act requests, court documents, and difficult-to-obtain interviews in Spanish and English with current and former Juarez Valley residents, Mexican officials, narcotraffickers and U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials, to reveal that many of these shocking deaths were perpetrated with the participation of Mexican authorities. It shows scenes of devastation — households where six members of a single family were killed, without a single police investigation. It uncovers targeted killings by masked gunmen of community activists and innocent residents for speaking out against violence and repression facilitated by corrupt military and government officials. And it gathers multiple witnesses who describe soldiers themselves, working in league with the Sinaloa cartel, perpetrating violence against civilians. "The cemeteries are all full. There isn't anywhere left to bury the bodies," one former resident said. "You'll find nothing there but ghost towns and soldiers."
  • Wilmington's Street Wars

    Wilmington, Del., has become one of the most violent cities of its size in America. Nothing dramatized that fact more than several spectacular shootings in 2012, including one day in June when three people were shot to death in separate incidents, and a shootout a few weeks later at a soccer tournament that killed three people -- including a teenager waiting to play the game he loved. To document and study the violence he and other News Journal colleagues were covering, senior reporter Cris Barrish gathered information for a database detailing the 158 shootings, including 42 homicides, over a 20-month period. He learned that police made arrests in only one-third of the cases, many of which collapsed in court. His research into why police could not solve cases led to the revelation that both shooting suspects and victims had been arrested an average of about two dozen times, with many qualifying as habitual criminals -- a phenomenon that some authorities call "thugicide.'' His stories also explored the “don’t snitch’’ code of the streets that cripples prosecution of these cases, not only by the men on both sides of the gun barrel, but also by residents who are terrified of the gunmen and distrustful of law enforcement.
  • Trail of the Gun

    After a wave of gun violence in Seattle, KING 5 examined some of the most basic techniques that police use to solve gun crimes. By analyzing documents received through public records requests the television station learned that most large police departments in Washington state are not conducting routine ballistics tests on the so-called “crime guns” they seize from suspects and crime scenes. This means that guns, that could hold clues to unsolved crimes, are sitting right under investigators’ noses in their own evidence rooms. The investigative series "Trail of the Gun" also unearthed the results of federal firearms “traces”, which police use to determine how a gun ended up in the hands of a criminal. These trace results revealed that a large number of Seattle’s crime guns came from an unexpected place. After the stories aired, several large police departments pledged to begin ballistics testing programs for their crime guns. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms offered to assist local police agencies to test every gun in their evidence rooms. And, the feds unveiled a warrant targeting one of the gun dealers identified in the series.
  • Hospital at Risk

    My investigation of the Minnesota Security Hospital, a state-run facility that provides psychiatric treatment to nearly 400 adults deemed "mentally ill and dangerous," uncovered high rates of violence and injuries of employees and patients at the facility, a critical shortage of psychiatrists, and widespread confusion among employees about what to do when a patient becomes violent. I found that much of confusion was the result of the abrasive, threatening management style of head administrator David Proffitt, who was hired in 2011 to reform the facility. I began investigating Proffitt and found he was hired without a basic background check. I uncovered many troubling details from Proffitt's past, including domestic violence, a PhD from a now-defunct online degree mill, a forced resignation from his previous job as the administrator of a private psychiatric hospital in Maine, and other failings. The state ordered Proffitt to resign and the Minnesota legislative auditor began an audit of the department's hiring practices. The assistant commissioner of the Department of Human Services who led the hiring search also resigned. The governor proposed $40 million in renovations to address safety concerns. Regulators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited the facility for the first time in 21 years. The facility also implemented new training for employees to reduce violence. My investigation of the facility continues.
  • World’s Untold Stories: Secrets of the Belfast Project

    Forty years ago, during the height of Northern Ireland’s sectarian violence known as "The Troubles," a widowed mother with 10 children disappeared. Today, the answers to what happened could be found in audio recordings locked away in a U.S. college archive. But some don’t want the truth to come out. The audio recordings were collected for the Boston College Oral History Archives, from members of groups on both sides of the fighting. But this history project may contain evidence, that could threaten a delicate peace agreement – and the man credited with helping bring that peace to Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams. Adams, a prominent Irish politician and alleged former head of the Irish Republican Army, has vigorously denied the allegations. But many think the tapes could hold the key to solving the widowed mother’s murder – and more. In this episode of CNN’s documentary series “World’s Untold Stories”, Nic Robertson examines the risks and the benefits of exposing what truths may be on the tapes – and explains the ongoing battle between families, politicians, the courts, and academia, who are either seeking the truth, or seeking to protect it.
  • Startribune:The Day Care Threat

    Children had been dying in Minnesota child care at an alarming rate and state regulators and industry leaders had overlooked the problem until our reporting laid bare a series of safety failures that led to the spike in deaths. The reporters made dozens of public record requests and analyzed hundreds of cases to uncover wide problems in the state’s in-home daycare system. They almost all the deaths occurred at in-home daycares, which have more lax regulations than centers. The series also uncovered dozens of cases of sexual abuse, gun violence and negligence that harmed children in the state’s in-home daycare system. It revealed how Minnesota has some of the weakest training and supervision rules in the country for these in-home daycares. The reporters also discovered that critical safety records that would help parents identify problem providers were not accessible to the public. The response to the series was swift and sustained. State regulators implemented changes to improve infant safe sleep practices and they are planning legislation this session to shore up some of the safety problems. The series also highlighted how the lack of information about child care deaths is a national problem.
  • Murder, Money and Politics

    A $54.5 million program touted by Illiinois Gov. Pat Quinn to reduce violence consisted of teens handing out fliers to promote inner peace, take field trips to museums, march in a parade with the governor and even attend a yoga class to reduce stress. Two years after the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative began, the murder rate was nearly 20 percent in Chicago.
  • Identity Evil

    "Identity Evil" is an in-depth look at a violent fake document cartel operating in states across the country. The cartel is the largest and most sophisticated fake id ring federal investigators have ever encountered. They were funneling millions of dollars from U.S. cities south of the border into Mexico. The cartel became synonymous with murder and torture as they sought to protect their turf from rival gangs and enforce discipline within their own organization. Using eyewitness accounts, federal wiretaps, and interviews with victim’s families, investigative reporter A.J. Lagoe and photojournalist Ben Arnold take viewers inside the cartel and document the violence that would prove to be their undoing.
  • Many Bullets, Little Blame

    This two-day series uncovered a significant, serious and growing problem in Kansas City: Police routinely shut down investigations into nonfatal shootings because victims wouldn't talk or detectives had trouble finding them again. Reporter Christine Vendel spent months studying a year's worth of shooting reports, knocking on victims' doors, and interviewing police, experts and others. Her series revealed that 60 percent of the 2011 cases had been shut down, even in instances where other witnesses existed. Meanwhile, charges were filed in only 10 percent of cases, leaving nearly all shooters free to threaten, maim and possibly new victims. The second day of the series drew comparisons to domestic violence issues of 20 years ago, when those victims faced similar problems. Police, prosecutors, lawmakers and others worked on solutions back then -- but no one was working today to help shooting victims. Vendel's series changed that.
  • Spa shooter sidestepped police

    Following a mass shooting inside a suburban Milwaukee spa, reporters John Diedrich and Gina Barton dug into the history of shooter Radcliffe Haughton with police in his community of Brown Deer. They uncovered a series of failures by police that left a dangerous man on the street, emboldening him to become more violent. Let down by police, Zina Haughton sought protection with a restraining order. She was dead days after it was issued. Diedrich and Barton found Brown Deer did not follow the state’s mandatory arrest law in such cases and failed to uphold its most basic duty: protecting the public. The most remarkable finding was that Brown Deer police actually retreated from a standoff with Haughton even though officers had saw him point what appeared to be a rifle at his wife. The police chief was defiant. Elected officials in Brown Deer deferred to the chief, who operates with little oversight in the village, the reporters found. The case revealed a loophole in state’s domestic violence laws: No one could hold local police accountable for failing to follow the law as designed by legislators. Data reporter Ben Poston joined the effort to examine how many domestic violence cases referred to prosecutors result in charges, thus holding other parts of the criminal justice system accountable.