If it’s something you’d just as soon not think about, chances are Pamela Colloff has written about it for TEXAS MONTHLY. Here is a partial list of the subjects she’s covered since coming to work at the magazine thirteen years ago: murder, arson, abortion, heroin addiction, hate crimes, illegal immigration, murder, meth addiction, the Charles Whitman shootings, the Branch Davidian standoff, murder, and war. Earlier this year, she wanted to do a music story, which seemed like a good idea, since her previous two pieces had covered the brutal murder of a family in Alba and the Aggie Bonfire tragedy. Only it turned out that the “music story” was an oral history of the tragic killing of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez.
It’s not entirely clear where Pam’s interest in death and destruction comes from. She appears to have had a healthy, happy upbringing. If you were to meet her on the street you’d find her to be an uncommonly cheerful, polite person. To my knowledge she has no weird hobbies. Nonetheless, she carries on writing stories that take her deep inside the most painful material she can find. The key word there is “deep.” Pam is a relentless, meticulous reporter. She reads everything, talks to everyone. She’s like a human microscope, carefully positioning one disturbing slide after another under her lens.
This month is no exception. In one of the longest articles we’ve ever published, Pam tells the story of Anthony Graves, a man from Brenham who was convicted in 1994 for the grisly murder of a family in Somerville (“ Innocence Lost”). For the past eighteen years, Graves has vigorously maintained his innocence. No physical evidence connects him to the crime scene; he had no obvious motive; and the only eyewitness against him was the crime’s prime suspect, who recanted again and again before his execution, in 2000, stating that