Features

  1. Early lab work suggests existence of undiscovered Dozier cemetery

    Crime

    TAMPA — Coffin nail by coffin nail and bone fragment by bone fragment, University of South Florida forensic anthropologists are learning more about the identities of remains exhumed months ago from a hidden cemetery at the state's longest-running and most criticized reform school.

    An artist’s rendering provided by USF shows what one of boys buried at the Dozier school may have looked like based on forensic evidence unearthed at the school.
  2. 35 years later, he's leaving Gulf High School — again

    Human Interest

    Dan Barrus walked across the stage at Gulf High School in the spring of 1974, accepted his diploma and returned to his seat. In his green cap and gown, he gripped the sheepskin and offered this promise to his buddies: "I'm never coming back to this (expletive) place.''

    Gulf High English teacher Dan Barrus talks with his third-period students during class Wednesday morning. Come May 30, he’s retiring after 35 years.
  3. At 100, Mr. Newton still working, just a little slower (w/video)

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    His boss at Bama Sea Products told him to take Friday off. Sleep in, relax. Enjoy your birthday.

    U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor gives a birthday kiss to Mr. Newton at his party Friday at Bama Seafood, where he has worked longer than anyone can remember. Colleagues, friends and strangers came to celebrate as Newton Murray turned 100.
  4. The last Martin of Gilchrist County (w/video)

    Human Interest

    BELL

    A traveling day. Nathan Martin is going to town. He is going to have a meal with the woman he loves. He usually hates wearing a shirt, but Vida will tsk tsk if he shows up with chest bare. He also needs to decide what to do about footwear. He hates shoes even more than he hates wearing a shirt.

    Most of the time, Nathan Martin, 72, prefers to go barefoot, like he did when he was a boy. 
  5. How one of the Blind Boys of Alabama regained his soul (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Illustration by Don Morris

    I WAS IN A DARK PLACE.

  6. A nebula awaits astronomer's eye — and his pro-grade RC

    Human Interest

    He left home before dawn that Saturday, followed two friends in a caravan to the Keys.

    John O’Neill saw a comet flash through the sky and, 20 telescopes later, the amateur astronomer is now a noted astrophotographer. He’s shown at the Science Center’s observatory.
  7. Did Westboro Baptist Church's new hater-in-chief once call Tampa home? (w/video)

    Human Interest

    The recent death at 84 of Fred W. Phelps Sr., founder of Westboro Baptist Church, has left an opening at the top of the tiny congregation notorious for its hate-filled rants about homosexuality at soldiers' funerals. Westboro's new leader, according to news accounts, is Steve Drain, who lived in Tampa and attended the …

    For Steve Drain, the road from Tampa student to Westboro Baptist Church leader included protests at funerals of military service members. He helped Fred Phelps create the “God hates …” signs and produced hundreds of videos for the church’s website, Godhatesfags.com.
  8. Madame Kinney, the psychic, is no more, but daughters will carry on

    Human Interest

    Madame Kinney spent a lifetime peering into the future, but even she could not have envisioned the throng that gathered in St. Petersburg for her memorial.

    A vintage billboard points the way to the palmist. She and Bob bought a house in the ’70s before U.S. 19 was a major artery. 
  9. Eddie Gonzalez was great police chief, even better party guest

    Human Interest

    Eddie Gonzalez, who died March 14 at 73 of a heart attack in South Florida, wasn't Tampa's longest-serving police chief, but he may have been its most relaxed.

    The packed news conference in the mayor’s office was nearly anticlimactic, a simple confirmation of what then-Mayor Sandy Freedman said she had known for a long time: that Eddie Gonzalez was the right choice.
  10. After 'Shark Tank' spot, balloon business takes a nasty twist (video)

    Human Interest

    LAND O'LAKES — If you believe the clowns, everything was hunky-dory until 2007, when Ben Alexander came along.

    Ben Alexander inflates a balloon for Amelia Woltmann, 4, at a Sweet Tomatoes in Brandon. He recently pitched his Balloon Distractions business plan to investors on ABC’s Shark Tank.
  11. Perspective: Hope for springs eternal (w/video)

    Perspective

    I have photographed Florida's gorgeous springs for decades, and that means — sadly — that I have documented their decline.

    A Clear Vision for Florida: River of Dreams/Fireflies on the Ichetucknee is my title for this photo from Mill Pond Spring at Ichetucknee Springs State Park, south of Lake City, which I made in 2006. Our springs, “bowls of liquid light” in the words of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, are world-class treasures. They deserve world-class protection.
  12. Tampa couple's divorce could challenge same-sex marriage ban

    Civil

    TAMPA — A few months ago, Mariama Changamire Shaw called the courthouse in the small town of Sunderland, Mass., where she married her wife four years ago. Could she file for divorce in Massachusetts even though she and her wife now lived in Florida, she asked.

  13. In tiny Hampton, national shame will be hard to shake

    Politics

    HAMPTON

    For years, she saw signs that something was awry in her quiet city.

    Hampton, a city of fewer than 500 residents, carries the labels “most corrupt town in America” and “a speed trap” after more than $1 million in traffic tickets were issued, mostly on U.S. 301, and a state audit revealed numerous irregularities.
  14. Davion Only still not adopted despite worldwide attention (w/video)

    Human Interest

    He stood at the pulpit that Sunday in September, sweating in a donated suit, clutching a Bible he had borrowed from his boys home.

    Davion Only, then 15, takes to the pulpit at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in September to tell the congregation that he just wants a family. His plea, and the subsequent worldwide news coverage, brought in thousands of offers to adopt him.
  15. Raped as a boy at Dozier, he seeks pardon for crimes as a man

    Criminal

    TALLAHASSEE

    Freddie Williams has spent most of his 68 years in the custody of the state of Florida. Prison walls and razor wire are the landscape of his life. Given his criminal record — the rape of a 23-year-old Pinellas Park woman at gunpoint in 1973, and armed robbery in 1985 — his chance for parole …

    At the hearing, Andrew Puel, left, a former Dozier ward, read a statement by Roger Kiser, who has researched and written a book called The White House Boys.
  16. In Florida, medical marijuana will be legal, John Morgan says (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Generation Jones, the youngest segment of baby boomers, is a very influential lot.

    John Morgan, head of Morgan & Morgan, stands for a portrait in his offices in downtown Orlando. Morgan will be influential on the 2014 election because he’s pushing the medical marijuana amendment and because he’s a Charlie Crist backer. Crist works for him as a partner at Morgan & Morgan. 
  17. Youngest boomers are jonesin' for some recognition

    Life Times

    If you are between the ages of 50 and 60 but never really fit in as a baby boomer, join the crowd.

  18. Relocated Everglades pythons can find their way home

    Wildlife

    They aren't afraid of alligators. They eat everything in sight, yet they can be virtually invisible. An army of hunters vying for cash prizes didn't make a dent in their population.

  19. Florida retiree's heroism in Vietnam earns Medal of Honor

    Military

    WASHINGTON

    Under intense enemy fire, U.S. troops pulled back as Sgt. 1st Class Ron Hagen lay wounded, unable to move. A battalion commander went for him but was also shot.

  20. Faraway grandma wants baby to know how much she loves him

    Life Times

    I was visiting my older son and daughter-in-law on the other side of the country in May, sitting on the edge of the bed, when my son handed me a little gift bag.

    Patti Ewald with her newborn first grandson, Eli Joaquin Ewald.