Contributors

Pamela Colloff

Pamela Colloff's Profile Photo

Pamela Colloff joined Texas Monthly as a staff writer and worked her way up to an executive editor before leaving in 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 Nonrequired Reading, and Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Colloff was nominated for six National Magazine Awards during her time at Texas Monthly. 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 next received nominations for “Hannah and Andrew” and “The Innocent Man,” which earned a National Magazine Award for feature writing. In 2015, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award for “The Witness.” Her story “96 Minutes” served as the basis for the 2016 documentary Tower, which was short-listed for an Academy Award for best documentary film. Colloff also served as one of the film’s executive producers. She further explored the subject of the 1966 UT 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.

192 Articles

News & Politics|
July 31, 2008

Out of Sight

For the 140 full-time, residential students lucky enough to be enrolled there, the Texas School for the Blind is “heaven,” “home,” and “the first place I had friends.”

Texas History|
March 31, 2008

The Fire That Time

On April 19, 1993, the world watched as the Branch Davidian compound, outside Waco, burned to the ground after a 51-day standoff. Fifteen years later, witnesses and participants—from federal agents to loyal followers of David Koresh—remember what they saw during the deadliest law enforcement operation in U.S. history.

Texas History|
March 31, 2007

Law of the Land

Nearly two centuries after their forebears protected colonists from Indian raids, the Texas Rangers are alive and well and wrestling with the realities of the twenty-first century. In their own words, the iconic crime fighters explain how their world has changed—and what it takes to battle the latest generation of

True Crime|
February 1, 2007

The Beating of Billy Ray Johnson

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.

Web Exclusive|
August 31, 2006

High Kicks at Halftime

Could football be played without drill teams? Well, sure—but then how could you keep kids in their seats instead of under the bleachers, drinking beer? That was the informing idea back in 1939, when Kilgore College first conceived its Rangerettes. Their instructor, Miss Gussie Nell Davis, pioneered the crisp choreography

True Crime|
August 1, 2006

96 Minutes

At 11:48 a.m. on August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman began firing his rifle from the top of the University of Texas Tower at anyone and everyone in his sights. At 1:24 p.m., he was gunned down himself. The lives of the people who witnessed the sniper’s spree firsthand would never

True Crime|
February 1, 2006

A Kiss Before Dying

Forty-five years after Betty Williams was shot to death by the handsome football player she had been secretly seeing, her murder haunts her Odessa high school—literally.

Where I'm From|
December 1, 2005

Ethan Hawke

Larry McMurtry writes about how if you’re forced to leave Texas before you’re ready, before the state lets you go, you always dream of it.

Politics & Policy|
September 30, 2005

Flipping Out

The letter-sweater-wearing, pom-pom-shaking, pep-rally-leading girl next door has been a beloved Texas icon for generations. So why do so many people today— lawmakers and lawyers, preachers and feminists—think cheerleading is the root, root, root of all evil?

Reporter|
June 30, 2005

She’s Here. She’s Queer. She’s Fired.

When the girls’ basketball coach at the only high school in Bloomburg moved in with another woman, it cost her a job and at least a few friends. But the tumult over a lesbian relationship in this tiny East Texas town wasn’t the end of the story.

Politics & Policy|
May 31, 2005

Get Out the Vo

The demographics of one legislative district in Houston have changed so dramatically that they allowed a novice Democrat to unseat an eleven-term Republican powerhouse. But the real story is what could happen elsewhere in the not-so-distant future.

True Crime|
April 1, 2005

Unholy Act

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.

News & Politics|
December 1, 2004

Cutting Deep

A year after state legislators kicked tens of thousands of children off the taxpayer-funded health insurance rolls, our biggest public-policy problem has reached crisis proportions. And the bleeding shows no signs of letting up.

Feature|
August 31, 2004

Reversal of Fortune

Eight years ago, 42 people in the West Texas town of Roby—7 percent of the population—pooled their money, bought lottery tickets, and won $46 million. And that's when their luck ran out.

Feature|
June 30, 2004

Letters Home

Seventy-five Texans—sons and daughters, brothers and sisters—have died in Iraq since last March. Here are some of their final words.

Feature|
May 31, 2004

Life and Meth

Around the Piney Woods, most people will tell you that they know someone who’s addicted to homemade speed. Drug recovery centers are overwhelmed; court dockets are backed up; jails are filled. There’s no end in sight.

Music|
April 1, 2004

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Before they had even cut a record, the five kids from Tyler who call themselves Eisley were the talk of the music business. Why? Let me draw you a picture.

Music|
April 1, 2004

Pure Country

"I don't believe anything in this world could ever disturb or upset me enough to make me start drinking again."

Feature|
December 1, 2003

Jasper

The town's name will forever be synonymous with one of the worst hate crimes in American history. But the story doesn't end there.

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Crosses to Bear

Every day the new politics of abortion play out at clinics like the one in Bryan–College Station, where emotions run high and Roe v. Wade is almost beside the point.

Profile|
April 1, 2003

The Whistle-Blower

What has Sherron Watkins' life been like since she exposed the financial shenanigans of her colleagues at Enron? Well, she may be one of Time's "Persons of the Year," but she's not necessarily one of Houston's.

Feature|
February 1, 2003

Queen for a Day

At this year's Miss Texas Teen USA pageant, girls from big cities and small towns stuffed their bras, slicked Vaseline across their teeth, and prayed that their thighs were toned enough. Anything for the crown.

Politics & Policy|
November 1, 2002

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Once upon a time, the Central Texas town of Crawford was like Mayberry: Everyone knew everyone, no one talked politics, and the air was ripe with the aroma of hogs. Then the leader of the free world bought a little place west of the Middle Bosque River, and nothing was

Travel & Outdoors|
September 30, 2002

Mexico City

MEXICO’S CAPITAL IS NOT ONLY bordered by volcanoes, rattled from time to time by earthquakes, and inhabited by nearly twenty million people. The megalopolis is also sinking so rapidly into the ground that its church steeples lean at odd angles along the skyline. “Embrace the insanity of the place,” a

True Crime|
June 30, 2002

A Bend in the River

In 1996 the body of a cheerleader from a small town in Oklahoma was found on the Texas side of the Red River. She had been raped and shot. The brutal crime destroyed several families and the illusions of an isolated slice of the world.

The Culture|
January 1, 2002

Grand Royal

Director Wes Anderson's new movie, The Royal Tenenbaums, deals with death, despair, and other dark subjects. And—what do you know—it's hysterically funny.

Web Exclusive|
December 1, 2001

True Believers

Senior editor Pamela Colloff talks about "faith-based" terminology, the Rebekah Home for Girls, and corporal punishment.

Culture|
August 31, 2001

Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice (Rob Van Winkle) was just another white kid from the Dallas suburbs in 1990, when his “Ice Ice Baby” became the first rap single to hit number one on Billboard’s pop singles chart. Back in his heyday, the peroxided crossover sensation could boast of multi-platinum record sales

The Culture|
August 31, 2001

Bobby Frank Cherry

A year ago last April, I explored the curious past of an East Texas man named Bobby Frank Cherry in a story titled “The Sins of the Father.” Though the FBI had long suspected that Cherry had played a role in the infamous 1963 bombing of a church in

Web Exclusive|
July 31, 2001

Saddle Up

Senior editor Pamela Colloff, who trailed five young women as they vied for the title of rodeo queen, talks about small towns and big dreams.

Being Texan|
July 31, 2001

Queen of the Rodeo

For teenage girls in the Hill Country town of Llano, life can be short on glamour and excitement—except at the annual rodeo, when one of them gets a rhinestone tiara and a rare, thrilling moment of glory.

Politics & Policy|
April 1, 2001

The Battle for the Border

In Maverick County illegal immigrants are crossing in record numbers, creating a war zone. Mexicans have been shot and killed, houses robbed, cattle stolen. Some ranchers are fleeing. But others, like Dob Cunningham, have decided to stay and fight.

Web Exclusive|
April 1, 2001

On the Border

After spending a week at the busiest U.S. Border Patrol station in Texas, associate editor Pamela Colloff learned that there is more to an agent's job than helicopters and surveillance cameras.

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