From crime to disease, from tragedies to victories, I’ve covered a good span of the human experience as a reporter over a decade in New Jersey at the beginning of the 21st century. Here are a handful of stories I wrote for The Star-Ledger which made some kind of impact.

 

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(Photo credit: Jim Fisher)

—- A Sussex County murder – What happened 30 years earlier? AND… A victim’s story – “It began with an offer to mow the lawn.”

AND… a killer recounts the night he returned with his hunting knife to the tormentor who allegedly showed him how to sharpen it.

AND… the judge apologizes to the killer when he says he can’t release him immediately, upon imposing sentence.

—- Brain tumor doctor – A tale of Victoria V. and Dr. Joseph Landolfi. AND… A doctor and patient, a coda – “I heard it was a very sad story.”

—- A prisoner’s hunger strike – About a year without solid food, a prisoner weighs half of what he did – and he is angry.  But he is proven to be right – though the result is somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory as he serves out the rest of his term for armed robbery.

—- A teacher’s Kafkaesque journey – A teacher is cleared of charges of sexually touching a student. He eventually returned to the classroom – but not before accusing his accusers.

—- A little girl is shot taking out the trash on Christmas night in Newark, capping an unspeakably violent year.

—- A massive and costly solar project fizzles, amid scrutiny. Yet more money is invested in its failing finances.

—- A forgotten fighter against horror – Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the word “genocide” and drafted the UN law to end it, died penniless on a New York City street, after being shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize twice. Why?

—- New Jersey was on the front lines of an undeclared war – another theater of World War I.

—- A young man accidentally leaves his handgun in his glove compartment, leading to felony charges. The first story started a tidal wave of support that ended with a pardon from the governor, five months later.

—- A cold-case murder mystery involving a tattoo, the guitar of a rock ‘n roll legend, retired detectives, and the one that got away: the infamous Tiger Lady case.

—- New Jersey’s black Civil War soldiers never got a movie – but they did get the Confederate capital, on April 3, 1865.

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