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Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer

Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery is an enterprise reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and founder of the narrative journalism website Gangrey.com.

Montgomery grew up in Oklahoma and studied journalism at Arkansas Tech University, where he played defensive back for the football team, the Wonder Boys. He worked for the Courier in Russellville, Ark., the Standard-Times in San Angelo, Texas, the Times Herald-Record in New York's Hudson River Valley and the Tampa Tribune before joining the Times in 2006.

In 2010, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting and won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for a series called "For Their Own Good," about abuse at Florida's oldest reform school. He lives in Tampa with his wife, Jennifer, and three children.

Email: bmontgomery@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Gangrey

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  1. Ruskin man who landed gyrocopter on Capitol lawn is free from prison

    Human Interest

    RUSKIN — Doug Hughes, the former mailman who landed his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol last year to protest government corruption, returned home on Wednesday, his 62nd birthday, after serving three months of a four-month prison sentence at Federal Detention Center Miami....

  2. Boys' remains from troubled Dozier school to be buried in Tallahassee, memorial to be erected on school grounds

    Human Interest

    MARIANNA — The bones came up from the red earth of Jackson County, from a forgotten corner of the campus of Florida's oldest reform school. Putting them back into the ground, deciding how and where the remains of boys who died in state custody should spend eternity, proved hard.

    After a tense, emotional, five-hour meeting of a task force charged with making that decision, the nine-member board voted to recommend that the legislature rebury the boys somewhere in Tallahassee and erect some sort of monument at the reform school, acknowledging the school's history....

     The cemetery at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys is seen at the end of exhumation work on Dec. 20, 2013, in Marianna, Fla. Researchers from the University of South Florida removed 55 sets of remains from the cemetery. [Photo courtesy of Dr. Erin Kimmerle, University of South Florida]
  3. Gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes ends challenge to Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Blog

    Doug Hughes, the former mailman from Ruskin who landed his one-man flying machine on the lawn of the United States Capitol last April to protest big money in elections, has ended his run to unseat South Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. ...

    Doug Hughes speaks to reporters outside federal court in Washington after a May hearing.
  4. Cabinet okays exhumation work at Dozier School for Boys

    Blog

    After decades of questions about how many boys are buried on the abandoned grounds of the state’s first and oldest reform school on the outskirts of the Panhandle town of Marianna, a team of anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of South Florida may soon use science to provide some answers.

    The Cabinet agreed Tuesday morning to allow the researchers to continue with the next step in a project they started two years ago: to account for all the burials by unearthing the boys’ skeletal remains and, hopefully, identifying each of them....

  5. Did Charlie Crist once date Jill Kelley's sister? 'Didn't happen,' he says

    Blog

    The Daily Telegraph of London, citing an unnamed Republican source, reports it has learned Jill Kelley's financially-challenged twin sister, Natalie Khawam, once dated former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist....

  6. Spectacle: The lynching of Claude Neal

    Human Interest

    GREENWOOD

    Allie Mae Neal pushed through the screen door and found a shady spot on her porch where the summer sun didn't bite. Kittens purred at her feet and wasps flitted in and out of holes in the roof. The few neighbors who passed by saw an old woman in a wheelchair, blue eyes lazy and unfocused behind thick glasses. She'd wave and they'd wave back. Black or white. She has never held a grudge. ...

    SCENE OF THE CRIME: Seven days after Lola Cannady’s slaying, Neal was seized from a jail in Alabama by 
six men. He was returned to Florida, chained to this tree near the Chattahoochee River, and tortured and killed. 
  7. Notes on the sourcing of 'Spectacle: The Lynching of Claude Neal'

    Human Interest

    • The first scene, with Allie Mae Neal and Orlando Williams, was witnessed by the reporter and photographer in August 2010.

    • Stories about the lynching ran in newspapers across the country. Several reporters, including one from the Associated Press and one from the Dothan Eagle, gave firsthand accounts of the events at the Cannady home.

    • A number of historians have referred to the event as a "spectacle lynching," meaning it was witnessed by many and met with wide community approval. The prototype is the 1893 lynching of Henry Smith in Texas. Those who make the case that the Claude Neal lynching was the worst act of torture and execution in 20th century America include James R. McGovern, author of Anatomy of a Lynching: The Killing of Claude Neal, and Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration....

  8. Facts, rumors and discrepancies muddle Claude Neal lynching case

    Human Interest

    Whether Claude Neal killed Lola Cannady may never be known. When the Committee of Six snatched him from his jail cell, they circumvented the legal system and left a wake of uncertainty for his family, historians and residents of Jackson County.

    Here's what can be gleaned from the records that still exist:

    The sheriff

    Sheriff Flake Chambliss suspected two men: Claude Neal and a white man named Calvin Cross. Neal was arrested two hours after Lola's body was found. That afternoon, Chambliss tracked down Cross and absolved him, according to his notes. His notes don't say why. ...

  9. Six minutes that shook baseball history and put the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL playoffs

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A baseball season is 162 games long. It begins in early April and ends for almost every team in late September. For both the Tampa Bay Rays and the rival Boston Red Sox, two teams vying for one spot in the playoffs, this season came down to the 162nd game. The Rays were playing the Yankees here and the Red Sox were playing the Orioles in Baltimore. Two 162nd games came down to the last six minutes. ...

    12:05: Longoria’s game-winning homer —  Longoria follows the ball’s flight Thursday as he heads to first base. The ball cleared the short wall by the leftfield foul pole.
  10. Tour stop suggestions for GOP presidential hopefuls

    National

    Welcome to Florida, Republican presidential hopefuls! We understand you'll be spending some time touring our fair state before the Sept. 24 straw poll. We hope you make yourselves at home. Maybe you'll even stick around. We've got plenty of property for sale. But, listen: We're not just The Villages We're widely diverse in age and income and heritage and political ideals, with nearly 19 million residents from across the globe situated on a narrow peninsula that sticks out like a thumb. We're hard to peg, unpredictable. If you want to address some of the most important issues we're facing, you have to know where to stop the bus. And so we offer this guide to places that probably aren't on your schedule, but should be. ...

  11. Chris Gay once stole a tour bus, now wants to stop running

    Human Interest

    The impostor pulled the million-dollar tour bus into USA International Speedway at dusk. He wore a NASCAR hat and new white sneakers. He was calm and collected when he stepped inside the front office and lied through his teeth.

    He said he was on superstar Tony Stewart's advance team and that Mr. Stewart was planning a surprise visit. He said he'd need a generator for the bus.

    "What did you say your name was?" the manager asked....

  12. Hospitality cost couple dearly when guest refused to leave

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Vincent and Donna Remeika's home stands as a tribute to love and family. The first photograph you see is of the couple, married 29 years, with their kids in matching outfits. The big sign in the kitchen, past the water bowl for six rescued cats, says WELCOME HOME.

    But home hasn't felt like home lately.

    "I feel so violated," said Donna, 54, a high school guidance counselor. "You hear that from people who have been robbed. I'm getting that feeling every day."...

    Vincent and Donna Remeika go before a Hillsborough County Court judge on Tuesday morning to get an order to evict Brianna Heslin, their son’s 22-year-old girlfriend, from their home.
  13. The State You're In: Controversy churns in tiny Oak Hill

    Features

    There's something of a mess in the little city of Oak Hill, pop. 1,900, in Volusia County. You may have heard that the city leaders voted to abolish the six-officer police department after the 84-year-old mayor suggested the police chief planted marijuana on her property to ruin her reputation and political career.

    But that's the tip of the iceberg, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal: ...

  14. Playboy Hugh Hefner's libido takes a lashing from Crystal Harris, but he gets last laugh

    Relationships

    We never look at Playboy. Never ever. Really. But we have gleaned a few things through the decades about Hugh Hefner, 85, the perpetually pajamaed player who built an empire on the curves of the girl next door.

    We know that he's lascivious, a stud, a 60-minute man who probably has sex 14, maybe 15 times a day, and more on weekends. We know that he lives some kind of fleshly fairy tale at the Playboy mansion, surrounded by a devout blond flock whose job it is to giggle, bathe, hula hoop and drink from straws. We know that . . . ...

    Hugh Hefner, 85, and Crystal Harris, 25, split in June, before their wedding. She told Howard Stern he’s big on cuddling.
  15. The state you're in: Along came a Florida-sized spider

    Human Interest

    She found me in the shower and peeled back the curtain.

    "I need you to take care of something," my wife said, "and you're not going to like it."

    I've seen big spiders, but this one, clinging to the ceiling like a bat, stole my breath. This sucker could have popped the top off a can of Crisco. We stared at each other for a second. I could almost see myself in its thousand eyes. ...

    I've seen big spiders, but this one, clinging to the ceiling like a bat, stole my breath. This sucker could have popped the top off a can of Crisco. We stared at each other for a second. I could almost see myself in its thousand eyes.