How we played the story when there was more to the story

  • Neil Holdway

    Neil Holdway

Updated 1/31/2020 9:28 PM

On a Monday morning last month, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, along with Lisle police and the DuPage County sheriff's office, had a big announcement to make: They figured out who killed Pamela Maurer, a 16-year-old girl who one day in January 1976 left a friend's house to buy a Coke at a McDonald's near their Woodridge neighborhood and was found dead the next day alongside College Road in Lisle, strangled.

The killer was Bruce Lindahl of Aurora, who, it turns out, died himself in April 1981 while murdering Charles Huber, 18, of Naperville, having stabbed Huber 28 times but accidentally also stabbing himself in an artery in the process.


Following the authorities' new announcement, the Chicago-based TV news led their broadcasts with the story all day. A 44-year-old shocking murder had been solved. Such was the drama that one of Maurer's childhood friends attended the news conference herself. The cameras and microphones swarmed her. "We all walked around back then," the friend, Cindy Evans, said. "You didn't have those worries."

Usually with such grand news conferences, in a room full of authorities as well as posters with the pictures of the victim and the killer, a single photo of the gathering is enough to lead our front page. But in that day's Page 1 planning meeting, we saw more to this story.

The case had stuck with Pamela's childhood friend, now middle-aged, and she freely talked about it. Why not lead the page, we thought, with a picture, made by our Rick West, of Evans opening up about the tragedy?

As I was designing the page and looking at all the photos, I saw there was still more to the story. Indeed reporter Susan Sarkauskas wrote about it in her story: Lindahl also was accused in 1980 of kidnapping and raping Debra Colliander. The case was dismissed, but the woman was found dead, also in the area, two years later. Furthermore, Lindahl is suspected in the murder of another young woman, Deborah McCall. The authorities displayed her picture, as well as Colliander's and Huber's. Plus, they displayed different mug shots of Lindahl after he was accused of multiple crimes.

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So, I thought, let's tell the larger story in our page design, too. A solved case plus at least three more slayings, plus the killer accidentally killing himself (the scene of which Naperville's current police chief came upon as a young officer, as our Marie Wilson reported separately).

It resulted in the graphical presentation using most of the mug shots the authorities presented that day, all pulled from our photographers' larger images of the news conference.

We expect we'll be presenting more of this complicated story as time goes on.

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