Pamela Colloff

Author's Profile Photo

Pamela Colloff was an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly until 2017. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker and has been anthologized in Best American Magazine Writing, Best American Crime Reporting, Best American Non-Required Reading, and Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Colloff is a six-time National Magazine Award finalist. She was nominated in 2001 for her article on school prayer, and then again in 2011 for her two-part series, “Innocence Lost” and “Innocence Found,” about wrongly convicted death row inmate Anthony Graves. One month after the publication of “Innocence Lost,” the Burleson County district attorney’s office dropped all charges against Graves and released him from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial. Colloff’s article—an exhaustive examination of Graves’s case—was credited with helping Graves win his freedom after eighteen years behind bars.

In 2013 she was nominated twice more, for “Hannah and Andrew” and “The Innocent Man,” a two-part series about Michael Morton, a man who spent 25 years wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his wife, Christine. The latter earned a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. 

In 2014 the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University awarded her the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.

In 2015, Colloff was nominated for her fifth National Magazine Award, for “The Witness,” a profile of a former prison employee who, over the course of her career, had watched the execution of 278 death row inmates.

Her story “96 Minutes” served as the basis for the 2016 documentary, Tower, which was short-listed for an Academy Award in Best Documentary Film. Colloff also served as one of the film’s executive producers. She further explored the subject of the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting in her story “The Reckoning,” which was a finalist for a 2017 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.

Colloff holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brown University and was raised in New York City. She lives in Austin with her husband and their two children.

Articles by Pamela Colloff

Report from Court
The Hannah Overton Hearing: Day One

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Executive Editor Pamela Colloff reports from Nueces County, where testimony in the Hannah Overton hearing focused on scientific evidence supporting the Corpus Christi homemaker's claims of innocence.

The Innocent Man, Part One

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

The National Magazine Award–winning story about Michael Morton, a man who came home from work one day in 1986 to find that his wife had been brutally murdered. What happened next was one of the most profound miscarriages of justice in Texas history.

Hannah’s Prayer

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Five years ago, Hannah Overton, a church-going Corpus Christi mother of five, was convicted of murdering her soon-to-be adoptive child and sentenced to life in prison. In April, she returned to  court—and watched her lawyers put the prosecution on defense.

Randall Dale Adams

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Only a man who came within three days of being executed for a crime he didn’t commit could be as passionate an advocate for a death-penalty moratorium as former death row inmate Randall Dale Adams.

Church Burners

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Why did Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister, two Baptist boys from East Texas, set fire to ten churches across three counties last year?

bon fire football memorial feature
Ring of Fire

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

On November 18, 1999, at 2:42 a.m., the most passionately observed collegiate tradition in Texas—if not the world—came crashing down. Nearly sixty people were on top of the Texas A&M Bonfire when the million-pound structure collapsed, killing twelve, wounding dozens more, and eventually leading to the suspension of the ninety-year-old ritual. Now, ten years later, on what would have been Bonfire’s centennial, the Aggies celebrate the history, relive the tragedy, and wrestle over what happens next.

Go Ask Alice

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Fifty years ago LBJ won—some say stole—a U.S. Senate runoff. What happened to the South Texas ballot box that saved his career?

Innocence Found

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Anthony Graves had been behind bars for eighteen years when the prosecutors in his case abruptly dropped all charges and set him free. How did it happen? What happens next?

Innocence Lost

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Anthony Graves has spent the past eighteen years behind bars—twelve of them on death row—for a grisly 1992 murder. There was no plausible motive nor any physical evidence to connect him to the crime, and the only witness against him repeatedly recanted his testimony. Yet he remains locked up. Did the system fail?

Free at Last

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

For eighteen years Anthony Graves insisted that he had nothing to do with the gruesome murder of a family in Somerville. That’s exactly how long it took for justice to finally be served.

No Fuss

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

"It's still easy to walk around New York unrecognized. I'm kind of nerdy and not fashionable, so people don't give me a second look."

Selena
Dreaming of Her

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

On March 31, 1995, South Texas came to a standstill as the shocking news spread that the hugely popular Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez had been shot and killed in Corpus Christi. Fifteen years later, the people who knew Selena best recall the life and devastating death of a star who touched us all.

Flesh and Blood

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

The most shocking thing about the murder of the Caffey family in East Texas last year was not how gruesome or inexplicable the crime was. It was that it was masterminded by sixteen-year-old Erin Caffey, a pretty girl who worked at the Sonic, sang in her church, and loved her parents.

Badges of Dishonor

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Two Border Patrol agents are sent to prison while the dope smuggler they pursued and wounded is granted immunity by federal prosecutors and goes free. A miscarriage of justice? Not so fast.

The Beating of Billy Ray Johnson

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

The short, slight, mentally disabled black man was found on the side of a road in Linden, huddled in a fetal position. He was bloody and unconscious—the victim of a violent crime. But another tragedy was how residents of the East Texas town reacted.

Life During Wartime

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Most of the 42,000 soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, one of the largest military installations in the world, are in Iraq or preparing to go. Meanwhile, the loved ones who are left behind wait—and hope they don't hear an unexpected knock at the door.

Unholy Act

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

No one in McAllen saw Irene Garza leave Sacred Heart that night in 1960. The next morning, her car was still parked down the street from the church. She never came home.

Lip Shtick

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

There are countless theories about why Dallas women are so crazy about makeup, but there's something approaching a consensus about the place to buy it. Which is why, against all odds, I found myself at the NorthPark Center Neiman's.

“Beldades” Of the Ball

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Every February, on the weekend of Presidents’ Day, the daughters of Laredo’s most prominent families are presented to society in dresses that cost $20,000 or more at a colonial pageant that is the party of the year.

Sweet 15

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

For the longest time, quinceañeras were simple, down-home celebrations held in parish halls and backyards. Then along came the stretch Humvees, the carriages and thrones, the choreographed dance routines, the smoke machines, the climbing walls, and the dinners for four hundred bedazzled guests. One thing remains the same, though: It’s all about the girl.

The Regulars

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

  ANN DICKENSON, 61 TEACHER’S AIDE Eats at: Donald Citrano’s Coffee Shop Cafe, McGregor “We go to the Coffee Shop Cafe every Friday and Saturday night. They always reserve a table for us, so we call if we’re not coming. It’s always the…

Hannah and Andrew

Jan 1, 2012 By Pamela Colloff

On October 3, 2006, a four-year-old boy named Andrew Burd died in a Corpus Christi hospital. The cause of death was determined to be salt poisoning, an extremely unusual occurrence. Even more shocking was what happened next: his foster mother, Hannah Overton, was found guilty of killing him. But could she really have done what the prosecutors say?

Soñando con Ella

Mar 31, 2010 By Pamela Colloff

Era una chica del barrio cuya voz la hizo acreedora de un Grammy, vendió millones de álbumes y la convirtió en una sensación como ninguna otra. Y cuando fue asesinada, el 31 de marzo de 1995, la estrella de la música tejana Selena Quintanilla Pérez pareció llevarse consigo las aspiraciones de fans de todo el mundo.