This week there have been some great examples of the impact public records requests can have, including how a three-year fight for records ended up overturning a murder conviction, while another long-running transparency effort is leading to reforms in civil asset forfeiture in Illinois.
FBI files on publisher Bennett Cerf show the Random House co-founder trying to use his leverage with the Bureau to get them to vouch for author Truman Capote’s investigation into the 1959 Clutter murders, which would eventually become the seminal true crime novel In Cold Blood.
We know many things about the 1981 triple murder of Fred Alvarez, Patricia Castro and Ralph Boger. We know that the bagman for the hit, Jimmy Hughes, confessed. We know that a 2010 trial was interrupted when charges were abruptly dropped and evidence lost. We know from witness statements that the murders appear to be connected to the corruption surrounding Wackenhut and the PROMIS affair. We know from FBI’s own records that the Bureau looked into the matter. And most recently, we know that the FBI has not only repeatedly refused to release those files, but apparently removed the request from their FOIA tracking system.
20 years later, a look at the FBI’s investigation into the infamous death of Christopher George Latore Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G. AKA Biggie Smalls offers some useful details - but not the important one.
When an FBI file opens with a paragraph that describes the case “a most complex case involving foreign intrigue, murder and the highest echelons of the Vatican,” then you know have something interesting. That was just how the file for Banco Ambrosiano began.