Remember the Tracy Press reporter who broke the story on the alleged killer of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu? Jennifer Wadsworth has been featured in the LA Times, appeared on the shows of Larry King, Dr. Phil, Nancy Grace and Geraldo Rivera.
It turns out that Wadsworth, 22, only has a high school diploma and is taking night classes at Las Positas College to get her associates degree. Her only experience prior to the Tracy Press was on her community college’s newspaper. The Las Positas Express carried this profile of Wadsworth. Here’s a portion of that profile:
- After a series of freelance gigs and internships Wadsworth became a staff writer at the Tracy Press in 2007. She was assigned the Cantu case as one of only two reporters at the paper.
While covering the Cantu case she was following up on two rumors. One was that there was a connection with a woman who had been hospitalized, which turned out to be [Melissa] Huckaby. The second was that the suitcase, in which Sandra’s remains were found, belonged to a Baptist minister named Clifford Lane Lawless.
Wadsworth, in her quest for all the details, searched public records, a step that many reporters had skipped over. She found that Lawless’ address matched Huckaby’s, which led to a phone number. When she called, Huckaby answered and after objection, proceeded to talk to Wadsworth for 40 minutes. During the interview Huckaby claimed ownership of the suitcase but said it had been stolen. The story was printed. The police acted.
And the college paper included this quote from her boss:
- “She has a ton of initiative to root up information by herself,” said Eric Firpo, City Editor for the Tracy Press. “She needs no hand holding, and she never really has. And she’s great when she talks to people because she has a bubbly personality that puts them at ease. People feel comfortable talking to her and telling her stuff. And talking to people is an enormous part of the job. In fact, it’s the single most important part of journalism.”
The story said Wadsworth had to withdraw from an evening class because of the extra hours she was working, but hopes to resume her education this fall. (Photo credit: LPCExpress.com, Stephen Kirschenmann)