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investigations

Evert Nelson / The Topeka-Capital-Journal

From cries of heartbreak to a call for the prosecution of men who pay for sex with girls, Kansas lawmakers said the story of Hope Zeferjohn, a teen victim of sex-trafficking who was prosecuted for sex crimes, focuses a harsh light on a state system that is supposed to protect children.

Fernando Salazar / Special to the Capital-Journal

At first, they wanted to save her.

Then, after she fled the Kansas foster care system at age 16 and fell victim to the commercial sex trade, social workers told her she was going to prison forever.

"When I went into foster care and they wanted to take me away from my family, I ran," she said. "I ran away, and that's how I really started to get into all of this trouble. After I ran away, that's when they started treating me like, 'Oh, you're a suspect and you're not innocent.'

2017 file photo / Topeka Capital-Journal

Hope Joy Zeferjohn was missing from the Kansas Capitol on the day her family was posing for pictures with the governor.

It was May 22, 2015, and then-Gov. Sam Brownback was signing a proclamation for Family Reunification Month.

Zeferjohn’s parents and siblings stood behind him, literal poster children for Brownback’s efforts to return children to their homes from foster care.

Segment 1: Councilman Dan Fowler and his challenger Kevin McEvoy talk plans for one of Kansas City's two Northland council districts.

Before the June 18 municipal election, we asked the 2nd District candidates about funding for the new KCI terminal, violent crime and why each would be the best fit for a seat on the council.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3 FM

The Kansas Court of Appeals said Friday that a grand jury investigation of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office should go forward. The request was brought by a Lawrence man running for the Kansas House, Steven Davis.

He followed a rarely used Kansas law that allows citizens to call grand juries by collecting signatures.

Davis wants to know whether Kobach’s office mishandled voter registrations and whether any crimes were committed.

KCUR 89.3

After a long and torturous wait, a Kansas City woman finally saw her rapist sentenced to 15 years in prison in May 2015.

A woman we called “Juliette,” to protect her identity, had been the subject of a KCUR investigation in which we exposed a failure by Kansas City, Kansas, Police to follow up on a DNA match made six years before Juliette’s rapist was finally arrested.

The Pitch / The Pitch

The fulfillment of a "long-term dream." That's how the new owners of The Pitch describe their acquisition of the Kansas City alternative magazine, which was announced Tuesday.

Carey Media, LLC, says it closed a deal to buy The Pitch from Tennessee-based SouthComm on the final day of 2017. SouthComm bought the magazine in 2011. 

John Tretbar / St. Joseph Post

St. Joseph Police and investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sifted through wreckage Wednesday, trying to determine the cause of an explosion that leveled a house and injured three people. 

According to Jon Ham, public information officer for the ATF's Kansas City division, investigators expect to know the cause later Wednesday. 

"What we'll have to do is use heavy equipment to move some of the pieces of the house so that we can begin to piece together what happened,"  Ham said. 

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Updated, 4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump's move to fire FBI Director James Comey shocked Washington Tuesday night. It's only the second time in American history an FBI Director has been dismissed in the middle of a term, and it comes as the FBI investigates ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Reaction from members of Congress from Kansas and Missouri was mixed.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The federal Chemical Safety Board has released preliminary findings critical of safety procedures at MGP Ingredients after a toxic chemical release at the Atchison based distiller.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

It's been nearly 30 years since six Kansas City firefighters were killed in an explosion after responding to a call about a truck on fire at a construction site near U.S. 71 and 87th Street. But the crime remains present and painful, particularly since further investigations cast doubt on whether the five people sentenced to life in prison actually committed the crime.

El Dorado Police Department

In a twisted crime spree that lasted from 1974 until 1991, Dennis Rader stalked and killed ten people in and around Wichita, Kansas. During and after the spree, he taunted pursuing authorities in letters he sent to police, local news and, once, left in a book at the public library. In the letters, Rader established his identity with a handle that caught on quickly: BTK.

Slaughterhouses remain one of the most dangerous workplaces in this country. Harvest Public Media, a reporting collaborative based at KCUR, has been investigating the hazards meat processing workers still face. The result is a three-part series airing this week, Dangerous Jobs, Cheap Meat.

Guests:

The Lawrence Journal-World recently sought information on fraternity hazing from the University of Kansas under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. But the documents the newspaper received were so heavily redacted as to shed almost no light on the issue. 

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A new one-act play re-examines an enormous explosion that rocked Kansas City and killed six firefighters. The jury convicted five men of setting the 1988 fire, but investigative reporting has cast doubt on key facts in the case.

The process of producing the play, called Justice in the Embers, meant writing a script with a dogged journalist and visiting a convicted felon. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.    

This is the second of a two-part series. For part one of this story, click here.

Courtesy of Stephanie Clack

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.  

When Alan Meade made police detective in Englewood, Ohio, in 2003, he inherited the department’s only unidentified person case.