Good reads

  1. Sheriff investigates claims of 'torture,' killings at Okeechobee reform school

    Human Interest

    OKEECHOBEE — The sheriff's deputies saw blood on the back of Joseph Johnson's shirt. He was 12, in 1959, walking down a Sarasota street after another beating from his stepmother.

    The former Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee, which opened in 1959, is now a privately run halfway house and development center for boys and young men.
  2. 'Marvel Universe Live' features Riverview native as Cyclops

    Human Interest

    Benjamin Aycrigg says he didn't set out to make a career of stunt work — he was just looking for a physical activity to replace football. • The Riverview native, 22, played defensive end and outside linebacker for Riverview High School and Northwestern College in Iowa, but in 2011, he returned to Florida …

    Riverview native Benjamin Aycrigg, who is Cyclops in “Marvel Universe Live,” rehearses for the show. Aycrigg, 22, knows a thing or two about action. He played football and has done stunt work.
  3. For ex-con, there's no glamor in straight life, but it still beats prison

    Human Interest

    A knock on the motel door at 6:30 a.m. wakes Tony Ferrentino. He lifts his 315-pound body a few steps to the door, where a Louisville Slugger leans by the window. His arms are tattooed from wrist to shoulder with dapper mobsters and sprawling, cat-eyed women flashing those parts typically left to the imagination. A …

    Tony Ferrentino in his room in the Bayway Inn, a motel owned by his cousin. Ferrentino is a lifelong criminal, who after spending 28 years of his life behind bars, is trying to remain straight. “Inside I got two dogs fighting all the time.” CHERIE DIEZ    |   Times
  4. For dancer, fairy tale breakthrough masks pain of coming of age

    Human Interest

    By John Pendygraft

    Times Staff Writer

    TAMPA — The dancer spends every day in pain and doesn't dare show it. She knows not to drop her head or grimace when the instructor is looking. Moping, complaining or being injury-prone gives a dancer a fatal reputation. Six hours of daily training is the norm, and …

    Hannah Stanford, 15, poses at the Straz Center, where she attends the Next Generation Ballet school. Stanford will attend the Royal Ballet School in London this fall.
  5. What makes a middle-aged man want to take a one-way trip to Mars?

    Human Interest

    TEMPLE TERRACE

    Hampton Black plans his mission to Mars from a 6- by 10-foot office. Inside this windowless capsule, there's just enough room for a desk, a computer, a water heater and a corkboard, w

    here he tacks important papers.

    Former NASA engineer Hampton Black, right, wants to be one of four people picked by the Mars One project to go to Mars and never return. Girlfriend Ann Marie Slavik, left, would be left behind. While she wants him to pursue his dreams, she's saddened knowing it would mean the end of their relationship. [MELISSA LYTTLE   |   Times]
  6. A history of a war is a history of a man

    Human Interest

    In 1943, the Army tried to turn an American lit expert into a mechanic. It took Bill Sutton's superiors most of the next two years to figure out he was no mechanic. In early 1945, the Army got smart and sent the bespectacled 29-year-old Ph.D. to France to be a military historian.

  7. Miss Florida pageant crowns the wrong winner

    Human Interest

    In a cross between Miss Congeniality and "Dewey Defeats Truman," the Miss Florida pageant has a real oops moment on its hands.

    Elizabeth Fechtel is shown as the winner in the Miss Florida pageant’s Facebook photo. The newly declared winner, Victoria Cowen, is second from the left. 
  8. Newly ordained priest, 27, joins Land O'Lakes church

    Human Interest

    On Faith

    LAND O'LAKES — At Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, the Rev. Jonathan Emery carried boxes of his belongings into the bare office that would become his and reflected on his new role: Roman Catholic priest.

    “A priest is meant to take care of his parishioners the way a father takes care of his children.”  Jonathan Emery
  9. Chelsea Baker's path to mound at Trop as unpredictable as her signature pitch

    Human Interest

    Chelsea Baker was nervous.

    So much could go wrong. She could hit Evan Longoria's sweet face with a pitch. She could end David Price's elbow. She could come out and throw like 50 Cent.

    Chelsea Baker, 17, throws batting practice for the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday. Baker, who plays varsity baseball at Durant High in Plant City, got a good start: Her Little League coach was famed MLB knuckleballer Joe Niekro.
  10. From This Day: Kristine Ann Putrino and Kyle Robert Kirstein

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — They had many friends in common, and in fact they met during their first year at the University of Florida, in the library of their dormitory. Her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, and his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, often were paired for social activities.

    Kristine Putrino figured dating Kyle Kirstein would lead to something serious; she was right.