PORTLAND, Ore. — The KGW Investigates team receives tips and story ideas every day from the community. As 2022 comes to an end, here's a look at the top investigative stories of the year.
One topic that dominated headlines in 2022 was ongoing gun violence in Portland. In October, a KGW investigation found police were slow to respond, or didn’t respond at all, to at least three separate incidents involving guns spotted near Franklin High School in Southeast Portland. The KGW Investigates team looked into Portland police response time averages in 2022 compared to 2021 and 2020.
Police, prosecutors, retailers, private security and neighbors complain shoplifting or organized retail crime is a citywide epidemic. To get a first-hand look at the problem, KGW investigative reporter Kyle Iboshi visited Mall 205 in October and saw shoplifters walk out of store front doors, stealing merchandise off shelves with little or no fear of being arrested or prosecuted.
A major topic KGW Investigates covered throughout the year was Portland's ongoing homeless crisis. In April, a team of KGW journalists documented the street-level response to the crisis through the eyes of volunteers with nonprofits, business owners, neighbors and homeless people. The documentary, "One Day," tells 14 unique stories from all sides of the homeless crisis during a single day.
In August, a KGW investigation dug into a big question: How can we better help people with severe mental illness? Investigative reporter Evan Watson spent months looking into the civil commitment process. The process happens when the state of Oregon forces someone with dangerous mental illness symptoms to get treatment when they refuse to do so voluntarily. An investigation revealed how high standards are contributing to mental health system gaps in Oregon and Washington.
KGW investigative reporter Kyle Iboshi has reported on the case of missing Portland boy Kyron Horman for 12 years. The second grader went missing from Skyline School in Northwest Portland in 2010. He has never been found.
In February, Kyle spoke with Desiree Young, the boy’s mother, as she made plans to hold a rally calling on the Multnomah County district attorney to take another look at the unsolved case and convene a new task force.
Alleged fraud involving COVID-19 relief funds was a nationwide issue in 2022 that impacted Oregon too. In November, KGW Investigates dug into the court documents of one case involving a Portland nonprofit facing federal charges. Theodore Johnson was charged with bank fraud after receiving $273,165 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds for the Ten Penny International Housing Foundation. Federal prosecutors claimed that Johnson submitted two fraudulent PPP loan applications to the Small Business Administration by inflating the number of employees and amount of payroll expenses the organization had.
Oregon's public defender system has been underfunded and short-staffed for decades, but a backlog of cases from the pandemic pushed it to a breaking point. The state's public defender system provides lawyers for those who can't afford them. To better understand the crisis, KGW spoke with several people directly impacted by the shortage of public defenders.
In March, KGW shared the story of Amanda Palin — a 35-year-old Salem mother who was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver in July 2021. According to police reports, the Oregon state crime lab determined that the driver had a blood alcohol level double the legal limit and meth in her system at the time of the crash. The driver faces a single count of driving while under the influence of intoxicants, or DUII — a misdemeanor. Palin's friends and family argue Marion County prosecutors should bring additional charges, like reckless driving, criminally negligent homicide or assault, to reflect the loss of life.
In December, KGW Investigates brought to light the story of a Vancouver teen who died after a fentanyl overdose at school. On May 3, 2022, a staff member at Hudson's Bay High School called 911 to report a student was unresponsive in a bathroom stall, likely from a fentanyl overdose. Even though she was given overdose reversal medication and was rushed to the hospital, the 16-year-old girl died six days later. More than a half a year later, many students and parents in the school community still don’t know what happened. The school district never told parents the cause of death, or the fact lethal drugs were being used on the school campus. KGW investigative reporter Evan Watson found out school officials never called police the day of the overdose, meaning officers were never able to secure evidence that would have been critical in a criminal case.
KGW looked into the major issue of car theft in Portland. More than 10,000 people had their cares stolen in the city in 2022. KGW Investigates found that, on average, a vehicle is ripped off every 48 minutes. Scammers use social media to prey on people who’ve had their cars stolen. The investigative team spoke with Lisa Olson, who almost fell for a scam after her motorhome was stolen on June 11.
Do you have a story idea for the KGW Investigative Team? Email email@example.com or call 503-226-5041.