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The 17 Most Harrowing Feature Stories Of 2013

The tough truth is: Sometimes the most important stories published in a given year are some of the hardest to read. This, our first of four end-of-year roundups, includes the best stories on murders, rapes, conspiracies, and other atrocities.

1. The Serial Killer Has Second Thoughts: The Confessions of Thomas QuickGQ

2. After Newtown Shooting, Mourning Parents Enter into the Lonely QuietThe Washington Post

3. A Death in ValdostaGrantland

4. Why Did Jodon Romero Kill Himself on Live Television? — BuzzFeed

5. Jahar's WorldRolling Stone

6. The Ghost Rapes of BoliviaVICE

7. TakenThe New Yorker

8. The Poorest Rich Kids in the WorldRolling Stone

9. How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber — BuzzFeed

10. Breaking Real BadSports Illustrated

11. Oops, You Hired the Wrong HitmanGQ

12. Murder by CraigslistThe Atlantic

13. What's Killing Poor White Women?The American Prospect

14. Hana's StorySlate

A sad but important story by Kathryn Joyce about an Ethiopian orphan who was adopted by a Christian Washington State family, who neglected and abused her until she died. What can be done to protect children like Hana from those who had once tried to save them? Read it at Slate.

15. The Ghosts of Jonesboro — BuzzFeed

16. The Dream BoatNew York Times

17. Danse Macabre: A Scandal at the Bolshoi BalletThe New Yorker

Read more of of our Best Of 2013 longform picks:

- The 15 Most Memorable Profiles Of 2013

- Our 24 Favorite BuzzFeed Feature Stories of 2013