Why this Persian New Year is Different

A personal essay by Iranian-born novelist Porochista Khakpour about her apprehension and lack of excitement about Nowruz, the Persian New Year, at a time when it feels unsafe to be of Muslim heritage in America.

Source: CNN
Published: Mar 20, 2017
Length: 7 minutes (1,862 words)

Who is Behind One of the Biggest Scams in History?

The first installment in a five-part investigative series from CNN Money about one of the world’s longest-running cons. Over the past two decades, vulnerable people have been duped out of hundreds of millions of dollars by a French psychic named Maria Duval. Part two of the series is  also online, and the third installment will be available on Thursday.

Source: CNN
Published: Feb 24, 2016
Length: 7 minutes (1,800 words)

The Senior Citizens and the Jamaican Lotto Scammers

Inside the Jamaican lottery scam industry, which targets nearly 300,000 Americans a year, most of them elderly.

Source: CNN
Published: Oct 7, 2015
Length: 20 minutes (5,082 words)

If Only They Had Treated Him Before

When Will Bruce killed his mother in 2006, he believed she was an al Qaeda agent. Bruce suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and after seven years in a psychiatric hospital he is slowly reintegrating back into society with the help of his father. Together, they question why the American mental health system is unable or unwilling to help potentially violent patients before tragedy occurs, and advocate for change.

Source: CNN
Published: Aug 15, 2014
Length: 37 minutes (9,300 words)

Taken: The Coldest Case Ever Solved

In 1957, a 7-year-old girl named Maria Ridulph was kidnapped from her neighborhood in Sycamore, Ill. and later found murdered. No one was convicted of the crime until 55 years later when new evidence, some of it hearsay, was brought into a courtroom before a judge. An investigation into “the nation’s oldest cold case to go to trial”:

“Janet’s father, Ralph, had long discouraged her from dredging up the past. But after he died, she decided to try the police one last time.

“She found a tip line on the Illinois State Police website and typed this e-mail:

“‘Sycamore, Illinois. December 1957. A seven-year-old child named Maria Ridulph vanished. Her remains were found in another county several miles away in early spring of 1958. I still believe that John Samuel Tessier from Sycamore, IL — AKA Jack Daniel McCullough — was and is responsible for her death. He is living in the Seattle/Tacoma Washington area under the name Jack Daniel McCullough.

“‘I’ve given information to the person responsible for the cold case in Sycamore. I’ve done this a few times. Nothing is ever done.

“‘This is the last time I mention this to anyone. What information I do have makes Tessier /McCullough a viable suspect, and worth looking into. I’m not going to keep doing this over and over. It’s exhausting and it dredges up painful, horrible memories.’

“At 1:04 p.m. on September 11, 2008, she hit ‘send.'”

Source: CNN
Published: Aug 12, 2013
Length: 96 minutes (24,200 words)

The County Where No One’s Gay

The author visits Franklin County, Miss. where census data shows there are no same-sex couples. He soon discovers that to be untrue:

“‘I think people should be able to marry whoever they want to.’

“I walked over to ask why, in this place where most people seem cool to the idea of gay people, that he took such a progressive stance. He waved me inside the store.

“‘I’m gay myself, that’s why,’ he said in that kind of intense whisper that conveys both urgency and secrecy. It’s the tone you hear a lot in movies like ‘Argo.’

“I was stunned.”

Source: CNN
Published: Mar 25, 2013
Length: 16 minutes (4,084 words)