Digging deeper

Remarkable story how a 22-year-old, beginning reporter for the hometown  Tracy Press, Jennifer Wadsworth, helped police find the killer of eight-year-old Sandra Cantu. Wadsworth, who had worked for the paper since September, used basic journalistic techniques to discover that Melissa Huckaby owned the suitcase the dead girl was found in. Now the story has taken on almost unspeakable horror, with the Sunday School teaching granddaughter of the pastor of a small church charged with rape as well as murder in the case.

Of course, to add to the irony of a print journalist making such a difference, the LA Times reports that this all happened as the Tracy Press struggles to survive.

San Jose Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold today reports on how Wadsworth just used old-fashioned journalistic digging to direct the attention to Huckaby.

In an altogether unrelated piece of reporting and finding the story behind the story, check out, if you can find it, HBO’s new documentary, “Thrilla in Manila.” The 90-minute recap of a 1975 fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier is far more than a sports documentary. Told through the eyes of Frazier, today 65 years old and living in a shabby apartment behind an inner city gym he has owned for decades, it’s a story of racial politics and unforgiveness that captures the sound and fury of a decade and about the hearts of two warriors. Ali’s ranting and insults forever changed Frazier, who today sees the stricken former champion and claims victory from their long-ago epic wars. I did this to him, says Frazier, who cannot forget or forgive being branded an Uncle Tom and stooge of the white man. Ali, of course, no longer speaks publicly because of his advanced Parkinson’s, but in 2001 told the New York Times he apologized for the things he said about Frazier. Ali was, and is, a Muslim, and in the ’60s and ’70s was under the sway of the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad’s brand of racial separation, which the documentary maker John Dower likens to the Ku Klux Klan, especially since they have a clip of Ali in Mania pre-fight regaling reporters with tales of his own meeting with the Klan.

Here’s an unrelated (to the documentary) clip from Germany about the Thrilla, often considered the greatest heavyweight fight of all time, and one that tested the hearts and souls of both men:

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3 Responses to Digging deeper

  1. RobtA says:

    I wouldn’t give too much “save the press” hype to the suitcase story. Admirable, for sure, but keep in mind that the police may have been occupied following numerous tips that were not relayed to the reporter. In any case, I wonder if the draining of that pond was as fortuituous as had been indicated.

    Last year, there was a notorious child abduction and murder, with the chief suspect being the child’s mother, who had been arrested and charged before a body was found. When discovered by chance, the child’s body was not far away from the home, in a wooded area that had previously been searched.

    As for the boxers, I wonder if Don and I are the only ones here who are old enough to remember all of that? Boxing is not my thing. The closest I’ve been to a display of organized violence was to see excerpts from “West Side Story” at the SF Ballet last week. (Some of the dancers had to sing. Oh, the humanity.)

    Speaking of West Side Story, may I recommend reviewing the lyrics to “Gee, Officer Krupke,” and comparing them to local progressive theory, as exemplified by the various “studies” programs up at the U? You can find the lyrics online.

    Back to age and cultural history: This very morning, I discovered that a couple of Youth of America, sitting nearby at a local coffee shop, had never heard of “West Side Story.”

    Muhammad Ali? Isn’t he the guy whom Dubya deposed in Iraq? Or is he a rap artist?

  2. Rob and Sherry says:

    We have a ‘newspaper reporter saves the day’ story right here at the Sentinel. In April 2008, Richard Carelli and Michele Pinkerton had been on the run for 10 weeks with their two children, fleeing from San Francisco where they were sought for the murder of Leonard ‘Milo’ Hoskins – whose body had been found in Carelli’s van 5 weeks after he disappeared.
    Our very own reporter, Jennifer Squires, found out that there had been a sighting of the fugitives in Mexico. Her story was read, coincidentally, by an adventurous San Diegan named James Spring, who went right down to Baja and found Carelli and Pinkerton within two days.
    Carelli and Pinkerton go on trial later this month. Their children are happy and healthy living here in Santa Cruz County with relatives, all thanks to Jennifer Squires and the Sentinel. We are the guardians for the youngest – 17 month old Faith – and we thank our local newspaper, and our local reporter Jennifer, every day!

  3. RobtA says:

    Rob and Sherry are right! I remember that story. In that particular case, it seems that police were not hot on the trail.

    Incidentally, in my earlier post, I mentioned a mother being charged with killing her child. That was in Florida. Big news there.

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