Monday, June 06, 2005

I read the tea leaves again, oh boy

Two other newspapers report another possible killer

Why is the Cape Cod Times determined to keep its readers from learning that the man who may have killed Christa Worthington could still be at large?

The paper's obstinacy about this verges on the bizarre. If ever there was an example of the public having a right to information, this is it.

Two other papers, The Cape Codder weekly and the Boston Herald, have reported on a claim by Christopher McCowen, the man charged with killing Worthington, that he took part in beating her with another man but the second man killed her when Worthington confronted him about stealing from her.

Is this to say we should automatically believe McCowen? Hardly. But as things stand now, he's admitting to being at the scene of Worthington's murder, which is a huge step toward finding out who killed her.

When I saw a story about the case in the Times last Thursday, I thought for sure that some mention would be made of a second possible suspect. Instead, staff writer Eric Williams wrote about a new lawyer representing McCowen.

The story also included this line - "According to authorities, McCowen told investigators he participated in the beating of Worthington and was present when she was killed," Williams wrote - which was almost word for word what he wrote in his lede on May 18 - "Christopher McCowen, accused of the 2002 murder and rape of Christa Worthington, told investigators that he participated in the beating of Worthington and was present when she was killed."

"Was present" with whom? Neither story says.

Why is the Cape's only daily newspaper keeping this potentially crucial aspect of the case from its readers, along with McCowen's claim to a romantic relationship with Worthington? At this point I'm beginning to wonder if the district attorney will ask for DNA samples from staffers at the Times. Yes, that was tongue in cheek, but not completely.

Perhaps the Times is looking the other way because they got beaten on this to begin with, and by a seemingly lowly weekly at that. Having spent two years working at weeklies before making the transition to daily newspapers, I know how hard many reporters at weeklies work compared to their often spoiled counterparts at dailies.


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