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15 Memorable Crime Stories We Published This Year

An exoneree trying to rebuild his life. A woman arrested for reporting her rape. Illegally imported execution drugs. The charismatic leader of a shady religious group. A cop accused of sexually assaulting a dozen women. A black man beaten in an Oakland Whole Foods. Bongs as the new banks. The mystery of an epidemic of murder in Detroit. Here are 15 of the most moving, unnerving, infuriating, revelatory, and memorable crime stories published by BuzzFeed News in 2015.

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Exonerated And Out Of Prison — And That’s When The Trouble Starts – Albert Samaha

Georgia Innocence Project

Scores of former convicts are exonerated every year, and the number is growing. But for Clarence Harrison and many others, walking out of the pen with a clear name and cash for all the years lost doesn’t mean living happily ever after.

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The Propheteer – David Noriega

Photo Illustration BuzzFeed News / Piraquive:Mauro Fernando Diaz / Church: Diana Sanchez Revista Semana

Over the past two decades, Colombia’s Iglesia de Dios Ministerial de Jesucristo Internacional — La Ministerial — has built a massive following with almost 900 churches worldwide. The Ministerial calls itself a prophetic faith, but defectors call it a cult that targets immigrants to fill its charismatic leaders’ coffers.

"They Told Me It Never Happened" – Katie J.M. Baker

Jovelle Tamayo for BuzzFeed News

What’s at stake when police arrest women who they believe falsely reported rape? For Lara McLeod, it was her reputation, her mental health, and maybe even her baby nephew’s life.

The 13 Women Who Accused A Cop Of Sexual Assault, In Their Own Words – Jessica Testa

Sue Ogrocki / Via AP

Last year, former Oklahoma City Department Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was accused of abusing women in the community he patrolled. In December, he was found guilty of many of their charges. But the testimonies of these women have never been reported in full before.

In Texas It's A Crime To Be Poor – Kendall Taggart and Alex Campbell

Steven St. John for BuzzFeed News

People in Texas get thrown behind bars just because they can’t afford their traffic tickets. That’s a disaster for people who are already struggling. It’s also completely against the law.

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How A Brutal Beating Became The Symbol Of Oakland’s Gentrification Struggle – Joel Anderson

BuzzFeed News

In a city wrestling with fast-rising housing costs and demographic change, a security guard’s attack of a poor black man at Whole Foods has come to represent what many black residents fear: Oakland wants them out.

Why Are Black Transgender Women Being Killed In Detroit? – Dominic Holden

Laura McDermott for BuzzFeed News

More trans women were killed in the United States in the past 12 months than any year on record — and nowhere do the violence and homicides appear as concentrated as the Palmer Park area in Detroit.

A Black Body On Trial – Steven Thrasher

Chris Whetzel for BuzzFeed News

Officially, former college wrestler Michael Johnson was on trial for not telling his sexual partners that he had HIV. But inside the courtroom, the man known as Tiger Mandingo was also up against America’s attitudes on race and sexuality.

Meet The Bail Bond Queen – Nicolás Medina Mora

BuzzFeed News

Michelle Esquenazi owns one of the largest bail bond agencies in New York state, thriving in an industry that is half insurance company, half privatized law enforcement.

The Lonely Quest for Justice – Karla Zabludovsky

Adriana Zehbrauskas for BuzzFeed News

A year ago, 43 students disappeared in Mexico after they were attacked by the police in the middle of the night, and their relatives are still looking for answers.

These 10 Questions Can Mean Life Behind Bars – Peter Aldhous

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

A short checklist called the Static-99 weighs facts about a sex offender’s past in order to predict the likelihood of future crimes. Many legal and scientific experts worry that the way the test is often used — to make high-stakes decisions about an individual’s liberty — is critically flawed.

Adam Serwer is the national editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. His secure PGP fingerprint is 883A 7AB8 4736 1BB9 A061 D26A F2B5 71C0 391A 0252

Contact Adam Serwer at adam.serwer@buzzfeed.com.

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