Lise Olsen

Lise Olsen is a Houston-based senior writer and editor, working mom, and yogini. Reach her at [email protected] or by phone or Signal at 281-454-1933.
Criminal Justice

Uninvestigated, Uncounted: How Justices of the Peace Miss Important Clues in Death Investigations

In Texas, justices of the peace with little training can miss important clues in death investigations, and make mistakes tracking suicides, homicides, and COVID-19 deaths.

Janice Lee Wilhelm was dead in her blue recliner–that much was clear. The 63-year-old grandmother had leaned back as if to rest her legs, tucked under the afghan she’d crocheted. She appeared to be asleep, but blood had oozed from … Read More


ERCOT Increased Revenue and Executive Pay In Years Before Texas Power Outages

Top ERCOT officials collected six-figure salaries while failing to prepare for extreme weather events that they were warned about.

Bill Magness sat in the Texas Senate chamber for several hours Thursday, defending himself and the Electric Reliability Corporation of Texas (ERCOT) that he runs. Senators grilled him about why the state’s once-obscure electric grid operator failed to prevent one … Read More

Criminal Justice


Homicide cases are going unsolved in Texas, leaving serial killers to murder again.

Undetected As more homicide cases go unsolved, the backlog of unsolved murders grows and serial killers are free to kill again. Too few police departments are effectively deploying their resources to stop them. By Lise Olsen February 8, 2021  … Read More


Deaths in ICE Custody Skyrocketed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new report shows Texas led the nation with seven deaths among immigration detainees from 2018-2020.

Fernando Sabonger Garcia ended up in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on July 7 after being arrested at the Texas border. A Honduran national fleeing dangers at home, he was hoping for safe harbor in the United … Read More


‘Chicano Squad’ Provides New Perspectives on Police Brutality and Unsolved Murders

Two native Texans teamed up to produce a just-released podcast that tells the story of an innovative group of Houston homicide detectives.

In 1977, a handsome young veteran named Jose Campos Torres was arrested at a Houston cantina after getting into a fight. Police hauled him, still drunk and angry, to a remote parking lot along Buffalo Bayou where officers beat him … Read More


‘Being A Prisoner During COVID Is A Death Sentence’

Death row exoneree Anthony Graves reflects a decade after his release.

Anthony Graves is perhaps Texas’ most famous death row exoneree. After spending 18 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, he won release in 2010. Under a 2005 Texas law, Graves also had to fight to … Read More

John S. Chase with sons Anthony and John Jr.

A New Book Celebrates the Work of Architect John S. Chase

Chase was the state’s first licensed Black architect and the first Black person to receive a master’s degree from the University of Texas.

John S. Chase is the Texas architect you wish you knew about—or perhaps should have already heard of. Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright with his own postmodern twists, Chase’s work has left a mark in East Austin, … Read More

An American and Texas flag fly from the tops of cranes near an oil rig by the site where President Donald Trump delivered remarks about American energy production during a visit to the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Midland, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Politics

Rural Voters Stepped on the Gas for Trump Across the Texas Oil Patch

Even in Democratic strongholds, some voters in the state’s vast shale plays were afraid of Joe Biden’s energy platform.

Once again, rural Texans voted en masse for President Donald Trump in 2020. Joe Biden spent no time campaigning in Texas and thus failed to reach the large swath of counties populated by some of the most conservative voters in … Read More

The Texas Capitol
Texas Legislature

As Democrats Divebomb, the Texas Legislature Remains as White and Male as Ever

The legislative body’s makeup stands in stark contrast to the diverse state’s demographics.

Senfronia Thompson, a long-time Democratic legislator from Houston, was one of the first to throw her hat in the ring for House Speaker when it appeared in November that her party might finally take control of the Texas House of … Read More