The Questionable Conviction, and Re-Conviction, of Ricky Joyner

by Christian Sheckler, South Bend Tribune, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica When an Amish farmer found the body of Sandra Hernandez in a hayfield in LaGrange County, Indiana, on an early spring day 27 years ago, police already had a suspect in mind. Hernandez was “severely decomposed,” a police lieutenant would say; vegetation had grown along and over the body. Wrapped around her head was a black plastic garbage bag. The body lay a few yards from the boundary with neighboring Elkhart County. The 25-year-old Hernandez was from Elkhart, and she had been reported as missing to local police six weeks earlier. Soon after her disappearance, Elkhart police had zeroed in on Ricky Joyner, 29, who worked with her at a company that built doors. Joyner and Hernandez had gone to dinner together on March 2, the last night she was … Continue reading

“How in 2019 Do We Not Have Enough Spanish-Speaking Caseworkers?”

by Logan Jaffe Last month, my colleagues Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib published an investigation that wove together the stories of three Spanish-speaking families in Illinois to show how the state’s child welfare agency has for decades repeatedly failed to provide services to Latino families in their primary language. Illinois lawmakers are paying attention. This week, we published a follow-up story highlighting some of what they want the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to do in light of the story, as well as the agency’s plans to address the problems. Those plans include trying to hire 100 more bilingual caseworkers and investigators (our reporters note that this is a “would like to” and not a “promise”). Read the update here. Dive Deeper Into Our Reporting Our newsletter is written by a ProPublica Illinois reporter every week Discover what … Continue reading

It’s Illegal for Federal Officials to Campaign at Work. A Trump Official Just Did So.

by Yeganeh Torbati Federal workplaces are supposed to be free of politics, but a Trump administration appointee used a government forum Wednesday to express support for the president’s reelection. At a conference on religious freedom hosted by the State Department, an official told the crowd of several hundred people that “hopefully he will be reelected,” referring to President Donald Trump. It’s illegal for federal employees to engage in political activities while they are on the job. “It’s a violation of the Hatch Act for a federal official, to say in her official capacity, to hope that the president will be reelected,” said Kathleen Clark, an expert on legal ethics at the Washington University in St. Louis. It’s not the first time a Trump administration official has appeared to cross a line. In a harsh report, a government ethics office concluded … Continue reading