I was 12 years old when I walked into our kitchen in Bolivar, MO and told my mother, "I'm going to be a TV reporter when I grow up."
I never changed my mind. I went to Mizzou's Journalism School, got my degree and starting working as a reporter even before I graduated.
The town I grew up in was small and is about 20 minutes North of Springfield, MO. We lived on a farm, where we had all manner of animals, but, pigs were the main focus. I grew up with three brothers (I was second oldest). As many people know, my oldest brother, Jimmy, was killed by a drunk driver a few days before I graduated from high school.
My first job was at KTVO in Kirksville, MO then a year later I went to KSPR in Springfield, MO. Three years after that, I got the job offer from The News On 6 in Tulsa and I loved it so much, I've stayed.
I didn't plan to become the crime reporter, in fact; I had always been a light-hearted feature reporter before coming to Tulsa. But, they needed someone to take over the crime beat and it became a good fit.
My beat is interesting, at times, exciting and always different. I have met a wide range of people that I would never have otherwise met.
As heartbreaking as many of my stories are, I relish the times our coverage helps someone. I especially hold the victims I interview, close to my heart. It seems the justice system is so often about the suspect... catching them, charging them and putting them on trial. The victim and their family often get pushed to the background. Airing their story is often the only way their voice is heard, the only way they get to share what they've experienced.
The other gratifying thing about this beat is we often help solve crimes. We air video of suspects and get them identified. People love that and so do we. We've also been able to tell the stories of people who have been wrongly convicted and play a role in restoring their reputations and lives.
I have had many fascinating assignments at The News On 6. I had a murder suspect surrender to me once at The News On 6 studios.
I was sent to Bosnia to interview Oklahoma soldiers who were there during that country's internal war. We saw first-hand their tough living conditions in the middle of winter and their pride in their mission of helping the war torn victims. Most memorable was eating the homemade bread made for the soldiers every morning by local Bosnian women and visiting an orphanage filled with children who loved seeing Americans and eating the chocolates we brought them.
I was sent to London, England to see how unarmed police work is done. We did ride-alongs with the Bobbies and went on "999" calls to see how law and order work in a society without guns. It was a fascinating comparison to America's system of law enforcement.
I was sent to St. Lucia as part of a police exchange program with Tulsa Police officers. We witnessed a step back in time when we visited a jail with no beds, no fresh clothes, no meals and no computers for record keeping. We hiked up a mountain with their officers in the heat of summer, searching for marijuana plots that police later burned.
I've was also assigned to cover the bombing during the Atlanta summer Olympics when a rush to judgment nearly ruined a man's life.
People often ask me the toughest story I've ever covered and I would have to say the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing. Not only were we at the scene right after it happened and for days and weeks, but, I also moved to Denver, CO for months to cover the trials of suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Day after day of testimony from victims, family members and rescuers was devastating. It was shocking to see how little emotion McVeigh showed throughout the trial. I also covered his later execution in Indiana.
I have done interviews on death row and witnessed executions at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary as part of my job. There are so many ethical and moral issues that surround crime, punishment and justice in our society. We always strive to be fair, equal, unbiased and objective with every story and every topic, we encounter.
Covering the crime beat has made me even more aware of the responsibility we have for our own protection and safety. That has led me to give talks about personal safety to groups all over Green Country. I love sharing the latest crime trends, the best techniques and the simplest ways we can all be safer in our daily lives. I'm a big believer that knowledge is power. I don't charge a fee for speaking. If you are interested in me speaking to your group, email me below. I usually must schedule months in advance.
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
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