The Craigslist Killing, May 4, 2009 As part of the team covering the arrest of Philip Markoff, the suspected "Craigslist Killer," I looked into the med student's murky online life, turning up a previously unknown screen name he used when cruising for gay and transsexual encounters. People was the first to report the online postings, but the contents were so racy that the magazine was unable to detail them.
Arrested Development, Dec. 8, 2008 For People's third installment of its popular periodic "Dumb Criminals" feature, I found, reported, and co-wrote the stories of three of the five featured felons - Frank, Singleton, who tried to carjack a vehicle in the parking lot of a jail; Christopher Koch, who arrived one minute too late to rob his local bank; and Stephon Busbee, who used a stolen cell phone camera to take a self-portrait without realizing a copy was transmitted to the victim's new phone.
Keith and Nicole Adjust to Life with a Newborn, July 22, 2008 When country star Keith Urban returned to touring after the birth of his daughter with actress Nicole Kidman, I attended his first show, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and reported live from the arena for People.com as fans welcomed newborn Sunday Rose with signs and gifts and Urban acknowledged his new status as a father.
Honeymoon Death Dive, July 7, 2008 When Gabe and Tina Watson went on their honeymoon in Australia, they expected to dive the Great Barrier Reef and see the fish and turtles featured in the movie Finding Nemo. Instead, Tina wound up lying dead on the bottom of the Pacific, with her husband, an experienced rescue diver, under suspicion of killing her. When Australian authorities finally charged Gabe with murder, almost five years after the death, I was part of a team locating friends of the couple and locating far-flung witnesses. I located and interviewed Tina's best friend and the two divers that were first to speak to Gabe after he surfaced as Tina was dying on the ocean floor.
Clueless, April 7, 2008 For our periodic "Dumb Criminals" series, I profiled several recent dim bulbs, including Etni Ortiz, who left a dye-stained resume at the scene of a Florida bank robbery, and Kasey Kazee, the Kentucky man who decided to rob a liquor store in an unusual disguise - duct tape wrapped all around his head.
The Governor's Call Girl, March 31, 2008 After New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned unexpectedly, I was part of a team looking into the shadowy past of the girl at the cenetr of the scandal, call-girl Ashley Dupree. We tracked down friends and family who painted a picture of Ashley as a high-spirited and outgoing girl raised in New Jersey and North Carolina and outlined the sad collapse of her family that seems to have led to her into what friends described as "the wrong crowd."
Did They Swindle Their Neighbors to See the World? Dec. 24, 2007 What started as a routine ID theft case for the Philadelphia police turned into an international media sensation as it came out that Jocelyn Kirsch and Eddie Anderton, a photogenic and well-heeled young couple, had been financing their high-flying lifestyle by systematically ripping-off their friends and neighbors. I led the reporting team looking into the Ivy-League grifters dubbed by cops as "the Bonnie and Clyde" of ID thieves. I also helped the photo department by contributing the photo of the couple's upscale Center City apartment building.
A Toy for the Troops, Nov. 5, 2007 Marcelle Shriver had expected to collect just a few cans of Silly String to send to her son Todd, an Army combat engineer in Iraq, who used the party toy to detect tripwires on booby traps. But her request for donations hit the Internet and things got out of control. In just nine months, she had 80,000 cans in a warehouse, but no way to get them to Iraq, since Silly String turns out to be a hazardous material that conventional shipping companies cannot accept. Finally, a New Jersey logistics company found a way to move the cans and allow her to complete her project. I reported the complete story, from New Jersey to Baghdad.
From Valedictorian to Criminal Mastermind?, July 30, 2007 Four years after Brian Wells was killed by a bomb that had been locked around his neck, prosecutors say they have finally solved the convoluted case. I was the lead reporter on the story of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, the mentally-ill woman who, prosecutors say, was the lynchpin of a complex plot to rob a bank to get money to have her own father killed. They said she and her co-conspirators hatched the scheme to make it look as if Wells was a hapless hostage, although he was in on the plot, a theory Wells' family bitterly denied.
Wrestling's Murder-Suicide, July 9, 2007; Chris Benoit's Final Days, July 16, 2007 Chris Benoit shocked the wrestling world when he brutally killed his ex-wrestler wife and their 7-year-old son before hanging himself in the family's Georgia home. I was part of a team on two stories, including the July 16 cover, locating and interviewing friends and fellow wrestlers, examining the physical and psychological damage that could have led to such a horrifying crime, and talking with fans to see what happens when real-life horror intrudes on the fanciful world of wrestling.
We Prayed It Was Not Him, July 9, 2007 When pregnant single mom Jessie Davis disappeared from her Ohio home, suspicion fell on her boyfriend, a married local policeman named Bobby Cutts. As police moved toward charging Cutts with murdering Davis and their unborn child, I tried to untangle the suspect's online life and located and interviewed a former girlfriend, who said he had had tormented her and abused the 9-year-old daughter they had together.
Harry Potter R.I.P? June 25, 2007 As buzz built that Harry Potter himself might die in the conclusion of popular youth novel series, I was the lead American reporter examining how fans, librarians, teachers and child psychologists would respond if the world's best-known teen wizard were to be killed.
A Sorrow Beyond Words, April 30, 2007; First Steps, May 7, 2007 When a gunman's rampage left 32 dead on the Virginia Tech campus, I joined a team of at least a dozen reporters and editors covering the case. With no People magazine reporters near the scene, I was responsible for identifying and locating witnesses by phone while our reporters scrambled to reach Blacksburg. I was also responsible for scouring the Web for clues about the shooter and details about the victims, particularly Emily Hilschire, the first student to die. In the second week, as we interviewed survivors and reported on Tech's efforts to move on, I researched details of the enigmatic shooter's life and interviewed experts on the process of recovering from a traumatic event.
Overboard, April 16, 2007 Two college Spring Breakers accidentally fall overboard in the middle of the night while on a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Against the odds, the pair managed to survive four hours in the pitch black sea while the captain and crew pulled off the improbable feat of finding them even though they had drifted miles from the spot where they had fallen. I was part of a team spanning three countries trying to contact witnesses and identify the lucky overboard passengers while the ship remained at sea.
Never Give Up, Feb. 26, 2007 For a package on families who will not let their missing loved ones be forgotten, I look at the case of Richard Petrone and Danielle Imbo (second page), who vanished without a trace after a dinner date in Philadelphia in 2005. Left behind are two young children and two families at odds over how to approach the baffling disappearance.
Farewell to Barbaro, Feb. 12, 2007 When the beloved race horse finally died, I called on my months of experience covering Barbaro's ups and downs for People and Time to report People's tribute.
Heartbreak in a Small Town, Oct. 16, 2006; Forgiveness, Oct. 25, 2006 A disturbed milk delivery driver stuns the reclusive Amish community in Lancaster County by attacking a one-room school house, killing five girls and wounding five others. I was part of a team covering the shocking crime and, a week later, the extraordinary forgiveness expressed by the entire Amish community, including the families of the victims. Part of my job was to seek information on the shadowy killer, Charles Roberts. I was one of a handful of reporters to find his funeral, which had been a closely held secret.
Heroes Among Us: Great Saves, Oct. 2, 2006 For our annual profile of ordinary heroes, I found and reported the story of Kevin Phillips, who just happened to be driving by a frozen canal as Eric Green was struggling to save himself and his dog after they became trapped under the ice. His courage and quick action saved both and forged a new friendship. The story was the lead item in the package. I also reported on a case from Philadelphia (page 5) where 10 year old Alex Maratea jumped onto the train tracks to save her infant nephew from an oncoming train.
Second Chance at Love, Sept. 4, 2006 A package about couples that met, lost touch, and reconnected for a second chance thanks to the Internet. I interview a New York City Couple (See "Book of Love," page 2) who met in a park, shared an intimate 30 minute chat, but then went their separate ways without exchanging numbers. They beat the odds and met again months later thanks to website Right Place, Right Time.
Charged with Murder, March 6, 2006 Neil Entwistle's seemingly idyllic married life ends in bloodshed as his wife and infant daughter are found dead, with him as the only suspect. I untangle Entwistle's puzzling and shady web of Internet businesses.
Desire Turns Deadly, Dec. 5, 2005 When Kara Borden's parents demanded she stop seeing the older David Ludwig, the boy pulled out the gun and shot both parents to death. I delve into the teens' complex online life and interviewed friends for clues to what sparked the bloody violence.
A Town at War, Oct. 31, 2005 A dispute over evolution in the schools in Dover, Pennsylvania brought unwelcome attention to the quiet, rural town and divided the formerly close community. I interview residents and advocates on both sides as part of a five-month reporting project in the town.
I won $1 million - Twice, June 27, 2005 A Bethlehem, Pennsylvania homemaker defies unbelievable odds to find two of only five winning tickets in the state's $1 million scratch off game. I interview the lucky winner, her family and the clerk who sold her the second ticket.
Desperate Housewives Dress - Free! May 30, 2005 When Melissa Saunders wrote to producers of Desperate Housewives, all she wanted was photos of the famous party dress from the pilot episode so she could duplicate it for her prom dress. Instead, they lent her the dress itself. I interview Melissa, her family and friends about her unforgettable prom story.
Questions? Comments? Contact Me: SPScully@seanibus.com