Drowning of Handcuffed Suspect Still Baffles Family, Friends and Witnesses

Categories: Longform

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Courtesy Brody Baumann
Brandon Ellingson and Brody Baumann at the lake in 2012.
Larry Moreau and his family were cruising the Lake of the Ozarks on a sunny Saturday last May when they noticed a Missouri Highway Patrol boat race past them. Moreau, an engineer from nearby Jefferson City, recalls looking down at the speedometer on his boat and seeing that it read 32 mph. The patrol boat, containing a trooper and another man standing next to each other, was traveling much faster than that.

A few moments later the patrol boat came into view again. This time it was stopped in the middle of the lake's main channel. In front of the boat, a few hundred feet away, was something else.

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Ideological Differences Spark Controversy Inside Missouri's Marijuana Movement

Categories: Longform

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Courtesy Keith Stroup
NORML founder Keith Stroup disbanded the organization's Kansas City chapter last month after investigating complaints.
November 5 marked a milestone for the marijuana-reform organization Show-Me Cannabis. In the months leading up to that date the group had busied itself meeting with attorneys, conducting polls and closely monitoring legalization efforts in other states. Now, a day after the mid-term elections, Show-Me Cannabis was ready to formally submit its proposed constitutional amendment allowing the sale, taxation and regulation of marijuana in Missouri for those over the age of 21.

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Meet the Ex-Pitcher Whose Fair-Pay Lawsuit Has Major League Baseball on the Defensive

Categories: Longform
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Steve Truesdell
Garrett Broshuis earned less than minimum wage in his six years in the minors. Now the recent law school grad has has filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit accusing Major League Baseball of violating federal wage laws.
Garrett Broshuis remembers heading from the diamond to the locker room back in April 2009 when his coach called him into the office. Broshuis' knees seemed to register the significance of the invite as quickly as his brain, causing the six-foot-two-inch pitcher to wobble awkwardly. In five years playing for the San Francisco Giants farm system, Broshuis knew it was never a good thing to be called into the coach's office, especially on the last day of spring training.

"I was basically told that I didn't have a future in the Giants organization," recalls the ex-athlete, who, as a pitcher for the University of Missouri-Columbia Tigers, went 11-0 his senior year, tying a school record. But the Giants didn't completely sever ties with Broshuis that day. Instead the organization gave him the option to ride out the season as a "filler," a sparring partner of sorts for guys who — unlike him — might actually have a shot at the bigs.

Broshuis decided to play on. For one, he wasn't quite ready to give up the dream he'd held since his days as a Little League star back in the small, southeastern Missouri town of Advance. Also, he needed his minor-league paycheck, even if what he earned was a pittance.

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Flooded Missouri Mine Is Proving Ground for Thrill Seeker, Subterranean Kayaker

Categories: Longform

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Tom Carlson
Don Marsan.
Hardly anything stirs the silence deep within the Crystal City sand mine, a 6-million-square-foot cavern carved into a Mississippi River bluff about 30 miles south of St. Louis.

For more than a century workers toiled inside the mine's massive caverns, excavating silica and sand for the nearby Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory. But the last of the PPG laborers packed up their drills and dynamite in the 1980s. Gone, too, is the power to pump out the encroaching waters of an aquifer located somewhere even deeper in the earth. Today much of the mine lies drowned beneath a still and glasslike lake that spans some 150 acres.

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Untangling the Wrongful-Death Lawsuit That Blames Wash. U. for Fall From High Rise

Categories: Longform

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Courtesy of Soh family
Yongsang Soh.

As October 26, 2013, bled into a new day, Yongsang Soh sat at a table at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles with three friends, all seemingly content with drinking and gambling their way into Sunday.

Affluent, serious and handsome, Soh appears in photos with a messy mop of black hair, a barely there smile and a narrow, refined face that takes after his mother's. A thrill seeker and devoted Cardinals fan, Soh had recently purchased two tickets to see his team play in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. The next month, Soh, a senior enrolled in Washington University's notoriously demanding Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, planned to spend Thanksgiving break in Las Vegas.

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The Strange Tale of St. Louis' Most Prolific Dead Poet

Categories: Longform

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Jeff Drew
Pearl Curran said she regularly communicated with the dead via Ouija board.

In a St. Louis parlor room in the summer of 1913, two housewives bent over a Ouija board. Thirty-year-old Pearl Curran had recently lost her father. Her friend, Emily Grant Hutchings, urged her to try to contact him through the game. The women placed their hands on the board's heart-shaped planchette and asked if anyone was there. In the silent, humid room, the planchette's circular eye began to move across the board's letters — but it wasn't Curran's father.

"Many moons ago I lived," the board spelled out. "Again I come. Patience Worth my name."

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Dime Bag Kingpins: How Two Grams Can Get You Twenty Years

Categories: Longform

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Adria Fruitos
Michael Mayo was on his way to get some new braids. He didn't know he would end up spending the next two decades in prison.

Police were watching as Mayo, then in his early twenties, made his way through his north St. Louis neighborhood back in July 2001. And Mayo, a street-level drug dealer, decided to do a little business before getting his hair done. That's when police say they saw Mayo make a hand-to-hand transaction with somebody in the middle of the road. Without hesitation, the cops jumped out of an unmarked vehicle and placed Mayo in handcuffs.

On his person, police found roughly two grams of crack, a joint's worth of marijuana and $176 in cash. Mayo said the money was for the braids he was on his way to get, not profits from drug sales. Besides, what kind of legit drug dealer has only a couple grams of crack?

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Sharon Carpenter's Strange Fight for the Recorder of Deeds Office

Categories: Longform

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Steve Truesdell
After 34 years heading the Recorder of Deeds Office, Sharon Carpenter was an untouchable power broker and pillar of St. Louis' old guard politicians.
Dressed in tuxedos and glittering bow ties, Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garrett ascended St. Louis City Hall's marble staircase to the second floor prepared to do something illegal — a secret operation months in the making.

Garrett, a 56-year-old archivist for the city's Recorder of Deeds office, carried a canvas bag. Inside: two purple yarmulkes, a prayer shawl and a Waterford crystal glass.

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A Honduran Teen Risked It All to Join Her Family in St. Louis. Will She Be Allowed to Stay?

Categories: Longform

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Brian Stauffer
The past few months have been about making up for lost time for sixteen-year-old Karla and her family. The Honduran national with a baby face and a radiant smile hasn't lived under the same roof as her parents since she was an infant, and she's only met her U.S.-born brother once, when he came to visit her years ago. That changed in June when Karla arrived to her family's St. Louis home, after being one of thousands of undocumented minors detained along the U.S.-Mexican border this year.

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The Strange Case of a Drug-War Informant, a Ferrari and an Alleged Kidnapping

Categories: Longform

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Illustrations by Greg Houston
Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez-Peyro, a.k.a. Lalo, insists he's no longer the same man who participated in cartel murders. Missouri officials aren't so sure.
After a few long days visiting family in California, Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez-Peyro was now fighting off sleep behind the wheel of a cherry-red Ferrari. Transporting the exotic coupe — a $200,000 612 Scaglietti — back to New York was to be the highlight of the Christmas holiday out west. But in reality the vehicle's tight quarters and the brooding silence of his girlfriend — Kelly Schroer — were making for an uncomfortable last leg of the journey.

Ramirez-Peyro recalls that they were heading toward the southwestern border of Missouri when Schroer's phone began to vibrate.

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