May 10, 2013
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Left with more questions in Cleveland

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Cleveland, Ohio

By John Gress

The setting sun shimmered off of wind swept waves on Lake Erie as my plane took off for Chicago and I headed back to normal life, knowing that the people who I covered over the past three days will need a lot more than a 400 mile flight to return to their normal life. I flew to Cleveland on Monday after three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, and a child escaped from the home of Ariel Castro after allegedly being held there for about a decade.

This was driven home to me on my last emotional stop in this northeast Ohio city, visiting Michelle Knight’s grandmother, Deborah Knight, at the end of a brick street that had more in common with a roller coaster than a freeway. While capturing her interactions with neighbor Sandra Guisao, I could tell that the news of Melissa’s escape was causing her to experience a range of emotions. One could only imagine the horror these women had to endure after allegedly being held captive and raped for about a decade and the excitement they must have experienced when they made their escape.

Feb 4, 2013
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Chicago’s violent legacy gets personal

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Chicago, Illinois

By John Gress

It’s not every day that an assignment teaches you something about your own childhood.

When I was 7 years old my father, who shared my name, passed away and when I looked down today, I saw a boy, Ronnie Chambers Jr., who is about the same age as I was back then, sitting at my feet with RIP carved in the back of his hair. He was there mourning the loss of his father, who also shared his name.

Jan 23, 2013
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Fire and ice

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Chicago, Illinois

By John Gress

UPDATE: January 24th

You never know how the assignment is going to go when you decide to put on the same clothes you had on the day before. Why? Because they smell like smoke!

I made a return trek to the ice castle today, an abandoned warehouse which has been burning for three days. Quite surprising considering most of the building has collapsed and is covered in inches of ice.

Dec 3, 2012
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The people behind your mail

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Chicago, Illinois

By John Gress

Every afternoon I walk through the front door and step over my mail. When I pick it up, I never think about where its been or how its made it to my home – God only knows, I guess, well sort of…

After spending most of Thursday with United States Postal Service employees, I know a lot more about how it made its way to my door than ever before.

Nov 5, 2012
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A bionic feat

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Chicago, Illinois

By John Gress

Most of us climb stairs.

Some of us do it for exercise, some of us do it because there is no other option.

Many of us would complain that it’s a burden to ascend three floors, but for Zac Vawter climbing to the third floor of the Willis Tower on Sunday was an accomplishment – making it to the 103rd floor was historic.