On the trial of Joseph Hall, who murdered his neo-Nazi father when he was 10 years old. (For more background on the story, see Natasha Vargas-Cooper's Feb. 2013 piece.)
Did an atmosphere of hate drive Joseph to kill? Did his stepmother? Or was it his childish misreading of a TV show? Or a complicated amalgam of factors, tangled together in a damaged brain? Was Joseph confused or deranged, a victim or a victimizer? Had he simply changed his story and implicated Krista because he was tired of being locked up? Or did he finally find the strength to tell the truth, months after the killing, because he was no longer under her sway? There were many questions, but Judge Leonard focused on one: Did Joseph know when he pulled the trigger that what he was doing was wrong?
PUBLISHED: Nov. 4, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5279 words)
Meet the hit man who also teaches Sunday school. “Special Agent Charles Hunt” is paid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to pose as a hit man. He’s hired by people you might, and might not, expect:
There are of course lunatics who come up with painfully stupid ideas: A convicted rapist in Florida wants the judge who sentenced him killed, and so he orders a hit, from prison. But there are also people with higher standing in the community: An Air Force sergeant wants help eliminating someone who heard him threaten his squadron leaders. An entrepreneur in Kentucky, facing a financial setback, thinks about having the hit man blow up his movie theater with his business partner in it, but decides instead to just have him killed at home (tonight). Love often plays a predominant role in the stories of people who hire hit men. The jilted and the scorned. The hopeless and the desperate: A woman in New Jersey wants her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend shot in the head (“Gone, gone to the moon”) and the boyfriend shot in the foot. She’s already picked out her black funeral outfit. Women. Men. Old. Young. This race or that.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 4, 2013
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4839 words)
Our story picks of the week, from the Dallas Morning News, Narratively, The Atlantic, The Awl and GQ, with a guest pick by Rebecca Hiscott.
From a windowless box in Nevada, Airman First Class Brandon Bryant helped pilot drones that killed over a thousand people as part of the U.S. drone warfare program:
Bryant’s laser hovered on the corner of the building. “Missile off the rail.” Nothing moved inside the compound but the eerily glowing cows and goats. Bryant zoned out at the pixels. Then, about six seconds before impact, he saw a hurried movement in the compound. “This figure runs around the corner, the outside, toward the front of the building. And it looked like a little kid to me. Like a little human person.” Bryant stared at the screen, frozen. “There’s this giant flash, and all of a sudden there’s no person there.” He looked over at the pilot and asked, “Did that look like a child to you?” They typed a chat message to their screener, an intelligence observer who was watching the shot from “somewhere in the world”—maybe Bagram, maybe the Pentagon, Bryant had no idea—asking if a child had just run directly into the path of their shot. “And he says, ‘Per the review, it’s a dog.’ ”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 26, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5485 words)
“I’m just an empty, soulless vessel.” Marshall Sella follows Anthony Weiner during his doomed campaign for New York City mayor, and finds out what happened after election night:
"At the end of every regret, there was always Huma. Oh, he showed contrition to the voters, but that was weak beer. He apologized to Huma and expressed his pain for her so frequently that there were times when I wondered whether he’d partly been trying to talk to her through the press. His honesty was challenged by all quarters, but his love for her seemed absolute. It was the core of him, the one thing he said—despite the lies—about which I never felt a trace of doubt.
“I asked, had to ask, if they’d be staying together. ‘One thing I’m grateful for is that now I’m under no obligation to answer anything like this,’ he said. ’But we’ve had a very rough time. It causes me a great deal of pain in the way she gets reported and the way she gets discussed. Her treatment in the press has been rough. It pains me because I deserve it. She doesn’t.”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5589 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring VQR, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Elle and Seattle Met, with a guest pick by Tim Cigelske.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4685 words)
The strange story behind the Mississippi man who sent ricin laced letters to a local judge, a senator, and President Obama:
"After a long and pointless back-and-forth, they put their cards on the table. A Homeland Security agent asks Curtis point-blank, '"Are you familiar with ricin?"
"'And I say, "I don’t like rice. I don’t really eat rice. If y’all look in my house, you won’t find any rice."
"'He’s like, "Ricin, Mr. Curtis, ricin. Like anthrax."
"'I say, "I’ve never heard of that in my life, sir."
"'He says, "You’re a liar."'
"At the end of a seven-hour grilling, the agents are beginning to suspect that they’ve picked up the wrong man. 'Finally, they know they aren’t getting anywhere, and they ask me, "Do you have any enemies? Do you know of anyone who wants to harm you?" I say, "Yeah, Everett Dutschke."'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 30, 2013
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9024 words)
Our favorite stories of the week, featuring GQ, The New York Times, Gawker, Aeon, and Vanity Fair with a guest pick by Jessica Lussenhop.