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Story pick: A deadly text


Most text messages are harmless. Some aren't. Photo by Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post

Many of us have done it: typed off a text message without much thought of how it will be received. Today, a haunting story in the Los Angeles Times details how one such message from a teenage boy to his girlfriend set off a series of events that led to his death in a Sears parking lot.

The reporter, Robert Faturechi, using text messages from court records and recreated dialogue from interviews, pulls us into the hours between when the text was sent, 5 p.m, and when the damage had been irreparably done, 9 p.m.

Any reporter who has ever written a “tick-tock,” a minute-by-minute recount of an incident, knows it’s all in the detail. Not enough and it falls flat -- it fails to accomplish its sole purpose: to take readers into that moment. Faturechi's piece works so well because the details are woven so quietly into the piece that we notice them without being distracted. At one point, he writes:

The three piled into Mike's car and began driving around aimlessly. The headlights on his gray Nissan Altima led them down Balboa Boulevard in Granada Hills and Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys. They talked about how to handle the mess Mike had created. The calls to Mike's phone continued, but the voice on the other end no longer belonged to Kat's brother. It was deeper and more confrontational.

"Don't you know who I am?" the caller barked. "You never heard of me?"

"No, who are you?" Mike responded.

The call was cut off.

Then the phone rang again.

"OK, what you say right now is gonna determine what happens to you," the voice said.

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By Theresa Vargas  | May 6, 2010; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  | Tags:  LA TImes, Robert Faturechi, Text, text messages  
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