John Ferak, award-winning investigative team editor for Gannett Wisconsin Media and an Eastern Illinois University alumnus, will return to his alma mater to talk about investigative journalism and the story behind his book “Bloody Lies: A CSI Scandal in the Heartland.”
An open presentation is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, in Room 2120 of the Physical Science Building on EIU’s campus. His talk will be followed by a book-signing event, and copies of the book will be available for purchase.
On the night of Easter 2006, Wayne and Sharmon Stock were murdered in their home in the remote farming community of Murdock, Neb. – population 269. The murders garnered sensational front page headlines and drew immediate statewide attention.
Barely a week into the investigation, two arrests brought a sense of relief to the victims’ family and to local residents. The case appeared to fall neatly into place when a tiny speck of murder victim Wayne Stock’s blood appeared in the alleged getaway car.
Then, an obscure clue left at the crime scene took the investigation down a totally different path, stretching into Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Texas and Wisconsin. By the time this investigation was over, the charges against the original suspects were dismissed and two new individuals emerged from the shadows.
Ferak covered the Stock murders from the very beginning, including all of the trial proceedings. When the criminal prosecution finally ended in 2007, he remained puzzled by one nagging question: Why was the blood of victim Wayne Stock in a car that was ultimately proven to have no connection to the murders? Over the next few years, the astonishing “bloody lies” were revealed, culminating in a law enforcement scandal that turned the case on its head and destroyed the career of Nebraska’s celebrated CSI director, David Kofoed. (See here for more on the book.)
A native of Joliet, Ill., Ferak served as an investigative journalist from 2003-2012 for the Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska's largest news organization. He appeared on Investigation Discovery's "Cold Blood" and also on HLN News.
In addition to his current work for Gannett Wisconsin Media, based at The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis., he has also worked as a reporter or editor at the South Bend Tribune in Indiana, The Daily Herald based in Arlington Heights, Ill., and the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Ferak will spend three days on the EIU campus as he presents lectures and talks with students in a variety of disciplines, including journalism, English and criminology.