For more of Robert Kolker’s stories for New York magazine, click here.
The Cracking of a Cold, Cold Case (April 2019)
On Mark Bowden’s new true-crime book, The Last Stone — and the necessary ambiguities that haunt even the best criminal interrogations. (The New York Times Book Review)
Project Spade (September 2017)
Inside the international effort to take down Canada's largest child pornography ring. (The Walrus)
This Lawsuit Goes to 11 (April 20, 2017)
The creators of This is Spinal Tap, the most influential mockumentary ever made, have been paid almost nothing. The rock gods are angry. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
The Oligarch Waits (February 16, 2017)
Outside of a John le Carré novel, there may be no more perfectly embroiled middleman than Dmitry Firtash. Russia and the former Soviet republics have more than a few embattled oligarchs, but only one stands accused of being the missing link between Vladimir Putin and the Trump administration.... (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Murder, He Calculated (February 8, 2017)
A tenacious data miner has built a tool that can help find serial killers and bring down murder rates—if police are willing to use it. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
On August 18, 2010, a police lieutenant in Gary, Indiana, received an e-mail, the subject line of which would be right at home in the first few scenes of a David Fincher movie: “Could there be a serial killer active in the Gary area?” ...
Affluenza Anonymous (November 21, 2016)
It’s easy to sneer, but maybe there’s something to the premise that wealthy kids have a particular set of mental health and addiction problems. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Buzz Off (October 6, 2016)
Even in the age of Zika, the people of Key West want nothing to do with Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
This Gene-Editing Technology Will Change the World. But Who Gets the Credit? (July 4, 2016)
Using Crispr and the Cas9 protein, these two scientists independently made the discovery of the century. Funny you should ask: No, they're not looking to share the money or the credit. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Nothing But The Truth (May 24, 2016)
A novel interrogation technique borrowed from the war on terror is transforming the art of detective work. (Wired & The Marshall Project)
The World’s Smallest Ukulele (May 12, 2016)
It’s playing for the mere millionaires being humiliated by billionaires in paradise. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
The Fugitive (March 16, 2016)
His feet froze solid. An avalanche buried him up to his neck. Villagers risked death to hide him. How Jan Baalsrud escaped the Nazis and became a Norwegian folk hero.
(The New York Times Magazine)
The Democratization of Surveillance (March 10, 2016)
A history of the StingRay — the police's favorite cell phone tracking toy — and the future of cheap cell phone spying that will soon be available to us all. “In the coming age of democratized surveillance, the person hacking into your cell phone might not be the police or the FBI. It could be your next-door neighbor.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)
WINNER: Society of American Business Editors and Writers "BEST IN BUSINESS" award
One Day, 625 Delays (February 23, 2016)
A deep dive into New York City’s struggling subway system: “By virtually any standard, we’re in the midst of a delay crisis.... On bad days, the delays add up to a point of no recovery. On good days, it’s just plain bad.” (New York)
The Video-Game Dream (July 30, 2015)
Sumail Hassan made $200,000 after one month as a professional gamer in the U.S. Now his team, Evil Geniuses, will compete for more than $6 million. (Bloomberg Businessweek) [Update: The team won!]
“Do You Know How Your Daughter Died?” (July 13, 2015)
When Gloria Huang was declared dead in a Qatar emergency room, her parents had no time to grieve before they were caught up in a legal nightmare. (New York)
Hot Shmurda (May 5, 2015)
Is the 20-year-old rapper a gangster or simply ‘guilty for where I live’? How an Empire-like rise plays out in real life. (New York)
Craps and Cryogenics (May 5, 2015)
Gambling downstairs, blood transfusions upstairs. The new owner of the Revel hotel in Atlantic City believes his casino can make you live to 100. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Unfreed (April 8, 2015)
The story of Rene Lima-Marin, who was accidentally released from prison 88 years early. (The Marshall Project, co-published with Matter)
One Nerd to Rule Them All (March 5, 2015)
Game of War isn't just a mobile app that, with an assist from Kate Upton, makes $1 million a day. CEO Gabriel Leydon calls it "the largest real-time concurrent interactive application ever built." (Bloomberg Businessweek)
An Altar Boy in the Church of Hollywood (September 8, 2014)
He says he was sexually abused as a teen by some of the most powerful gay men in Hollywood, including X-Men director Bryan Singer. They say he’s lying and looking for a payout. Now, years later, Michael Egan is feeling very vulnerable again.
The Boy Who Ran (March 30, 2014)
The life and death of Avonte Oquendo.
A Dangerous Mind (January 12, 2014)
When do awful thoughts, shared with complete strangers, become criminal actions? The troubling case—in every direction—of the “cannibal cop.”
The Opt-Outers (November 14, 2013)
On standardized testing, the Common Core, and the growing parent resistance.
Manhattan Fold ’Em (July 1, 2013)
A high-stakes game that started off at Tobey Maguire’s house launched the career of Molly Bloom, poker hostess. Now the government, on the trail of a vast gambling ring involving the Russian mob and Carlyle Hotel gallerists, wants to end it.
Cambridge? (April 20, 2013)
The Boston marathon bombing suspects spent their teen years in one of the most diverse, accepting communities in America.
Kaboom (April 1, 2013)
They were young and in love and pregnant and partial to heroin and living in a Village apartment with a lot of heavy weaponry lying about. What could possibly go wrong?
Modafinil’s Moment (March 31, 2013)
The real Limitless drug isn’t just for lifehackers anymore.
Death by Car (November 25, 2012)
As crime reaches new record lows, the number of traffic-related fatalities in New York has spiked. Inside the imperfect science of traffic safety—and the beginnings of a movement to rethink enforcement.
Cheating Upwards (September 24, 2012)
The teen at the center of the Stuyvesant High School cheating scandal speaks out, offering a thorough account of how he did it.
A Daughter’s Revenge (April 1, 2012)
Brigitte Harris cut off her father's penis, accidentally killing him in the process, because, she says, he sexually abused her for years. In 2009, she was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, and sentenced to five to fifteen years. This week she'll have her first parole hearing. Should she be released?
Kidnapped at Birth (October 31, 2011)
The story of Carlina White, the woman who solved her own kidnapping.
A Serial Killer in Common (June 6, 2011)
Five prostitutes disappear. Bodies turn up on a beach. Now the families of the victims have formed a kind of sisterhood. They ask: Who murdered my daughter? Who was my sister—really?
I Did It: Why do people confess to crimes they didn’t commit? (October 10, 2010)
The story of Frank Sterling, whose coerced confession for murder sent him to jail for 18 years, and the flaws in police interrogation methods that give rise to false confessions.
2011 Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
The Devil in David Letterman (November 2, 2009)
How the late-night talk-show host handled his extortion crisis.
The Archbishop of Charm (September 28, 2009)
A profile of Timothy Dolan, New York’s Catholic archibishop (now cardinal), including a probing conversation about gay marriage.
“My Aircraft” (February 9, 2009)
New York magazine's cover story about Chesley Sullenberger and the Miracle on the Hudson.
Mercenary for Justice (Nov 2, 2008)
Pro-life zealot James Kopp murdered an upstate abortion doctor in 1998. And he might well have escaped the FBI if not for an informant whose desire for the big reward money led him to betray a lifelong friend. Now the informant tells his story for the first time, offering the inside account of how the abortion war’s most notorious assassin was finally taken down.
Anthologized in The Best American Legal Writing 2009.
A Bad Night at Club Kalua (March 3, 2008)
The police shooting of Sean Bell.
Death of a Broker (November 18, 2007)
In real estate, where brash aggressiveness is the norm, Linda Stein was at a whole other level. Did a tantrum push her assistant over the edge?
When Is a Hate Crime Not a Hate Crime? (November 4, 2007)
It looked like a classic case of gay-bashing. Then the basher announced that he was gay, too.
The Girl in the 9/11 Bubble (September 7, 2007)
Emma Rathkey lost her father in the World Trade Center attacks. Now the only place she can find real comfort is in the company of others just like her.
This Is the Part Where the Superhero Discovers He Is Mortal (April 23, 2007)
The celebrity afterlife of Wesley Autrey, the “Subway Superman.”
The Gay Flannel Suit (March 5, 2007)
A young lawyer barely out of the closet. A partner’s slur. A $15 million lawsuit. Aaron Charney’s career-destroying search for justice.
No Way Out (January 22, 2007)
Fighting a tenement blaze on a freezing January day now called Black Sunday, two firemen were killed and four were forced to jump out the window in a tragedy everybody thinks could have been prevented. Two years later, the survivors talk for the first time about what happened in that building.
Take the Hedge-Fund Money and Run (October 30, 2006)
Angelo Haligiannis built an $80 million investment business, scammed friends, family, and a 9/11 widow out of a fortune, then walked out of his life.
Nine Blocks From Home (July 17, 2006)
Lifted out of working-class Brooklyn and propelled to Brearley, Wesleyan, Credit Suisse, and Condé Nast, Tiesha Sargeant was supposed to be a model of progressive social mobility. How did it come to pass that she was murdered in her old neighborhood?
On the Rabbi's Knee (May 22, 2006)
Do the Orthodox Jews have a Catholic-priest problem?
National Magazine Award Nominee, Public-Interest Category, American Society of Magazine Editors
O'Neill Versus Osama (Dec 17, 2001)
Most of the victims of the September 11 attack seemed tragically random -- they were just going to work. Not John O'Neill. Until August 2001, he'd been the FBI's top expert on Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, a lead investigator of the USS Cole and African embassy bombings. Leaving the Bureau in frustration, he'd taken a job he thought of as retirement: World Trade Center security chief. But when he died it became clear: His own life contained as many mysteries as his enemy's.
(Click here for more stories....)