Criminal Ideas


“Wait, wait, wait, he burned down his own house—because he didn't get any Christmas gifts?”

I still remember my editor's words vividly. It was a chilly late December morning. I was a reporting intern covering the police beat for a suburban daily newspaper outside Philadelphia. I had just grabbed some police reports from the newsroom fax machine. As I read through the first few, my head slowly cocked to the side and my lips pursed—forming the word that finally escaped them: “Whaaaatttt?” Some follow-up calls confirmed the seemingly unthinkable. Soon after, I told my editor.

The story: A young man, angry at receiving ...

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