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.

When Your Birth Is a State Secret

by | Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 9:00 am CST

In a Rare Show of Accountability, a Texas Attorney Has Surrendered His License

A judge called his actions in a death penalty case "shocking prosecutorial misconduct that destroyed any semblance of a fair trial.”

Weldon Ralph Petty Jr., a chain-smoking bespectacled attorney, was a quiet fixture at the Midland County courthouse for two decades. By day, he often appeared before judges as an assistant district attorney in the 11-story brown brick courthouse in the … Read More

Criminal Justice

Armed With Lessons From a Dallas Serial Killer, Families Push for Reforms in Texas Law

Bills before the state Legislature this session would subject precious metal buyers to more scrutiny and protect assisted living residents.

Shannon Gleason Dion often holds a gold necklace with a guardian angel medallion when she testifies before the Texas Legislature. Her mother, Doris Gleason, wore an identical amulet before she became the ninth of 18 known victims of a man … Read More

Texas Legislature

“Election Integrity” or Voter Intimidation?

Texas Republicans are pushing changes to election laws that would let partisan poll watchers record voters in polling places.

During a March webinar, Bill Ely pulled up a map of Harris County while presenting the local Republican Party’s ambitious plan for the 2022 midterms: building an “army” of 10,000 conservative election monitors. Ely, a local Tea Party leader who … Read More

Criminal Justice

How Flawed Death Investigations Can Leave Texas COVID-19 Deaths Uncounted

According to a new study, undercounts of COVID-19 deaths appear worst in rural and suburban areas served by elected justices of the peace.

Rick Hill, a retired high school principal, plays a key role in tracing deaths linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As an elected justice of the peace (JP) in Brazos County and leader of the Texas Justices of the Peace … Read More

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