Teen Victim to Teen Madam: Among All the Kids Money Mike Handed $100 Bills For Sex, One Was Charged With a Felony

Cara had just jumped out of the shower, thrown on a T-shirt and plopped down on the couch to finish some homework when she heard someone pounding at the front door. She was stunned by what she saw when she peered out the window: Several uniformed police officers had gathered on her lawn, some, she thought, with guns drawn, "like I was some killer or something." Police cruisers swarmed the front of her father's League City home.

Cara (not her real name) recognized one officer in particular, Webster police detective David Nettles, who shouted that he was there to arrest her. As soon as she saw him, Cara knew why Nettles was at her doorstep.

Weeks earlier, Cara had lied to the detective about what happened with Money Mike, the nickname Cara and her friends gave the 62-year-old big-tipping regular at her old restaurant job. She met the Friendswood businessman the summer of 2013, right before her sophomore year in high school.

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Rather Than Fix the Problem, Houston Officials Ship Stray Animals Off to Other States

Categories: Cover Story

On a Tuesday morning in a former performance hall in the Heights, a few hundred dogs and cats are getting ready for a 19-hour drive to Colorado. Former residents of the city's continually overcrowded pound, BARC, the animals were pulled and placed in foster homes by a rescue group called Rescued Pets Movement.

The group formed in 2013 and has transported more than 4,300 homeless animals to a network of rescue groups in Colorado, a state that imported more than 17,000 dogs from across the country in 2013. (A small number of animals are transferred to rescue groups in Utah and Wyoming as well.) The animals are loaded into four new vans tricked out with climate-control systems to keep the animals comfortable on their long journey. One of the group's co-founders, Cindy Perini, says each vehicle is personally financed by an individual board member.

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Female Service Members Can Go to War but Can't Give Birth in a VA Hospital

Categories: Cover Story

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
For Amelia "Mali" Templeton, this doctor's visit is cause for both joy and fear. She is nearly into her second trimester of her second pregnancy, but this is the first time she has seen an obstetrician since an initial brief "yes, you're pregnant" confirmation of her home pregnancy test results. She has been desperately seeking prenatal care ever since.

"I didn't want to tell anybody until I'd heard a heartbeat," says Templeton. "I had some close friends that had gone through some pretty traumatic pregnancies over the past few years. So I wanted to wait until I had at least had my first appointment when a doctor would say, 'It looks good' before I even told my family."

Thankfully, everything checks out within normal parameters. Templeton's baby is viable and growing well. She's clear to tell her 85-year-old grandfather that he's got a new great-grandbaby on the way. She'll be bringing a brother or sister home for her nine-year-old daughter.

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Murky Waters: Oystermen Battle Over the Future of Texas Oyster Reefs

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Lisa Halili had to scream into the phone to get her old friend and longtime competitor in the Texas oyster industry, Mihael Ivic, to calm down enough so that she could understand what he was saying.

"The Nelsons are stealing the bay!" Ivic yelled. Lisa's stomach knotted and her hands grew slick with sweat as she handed the phone to her husband, Johnny Halili, to see if he could get Ivic to make sense. The story Ivic told seemed like some kind of sick joke. After everything they'd been through the past few years -- the hurricanes, the drought, the oil spill, an entire litany of disasters -- even Ben Nelson, known curmudgeon that he was, couldn't really do this.

But Nelson's son-in-law, Tracy Woody, confirmed it when Johnny Halili called him.

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Tim Miller Thinks He Knows Who Killed His Daughter, But Is He After the Right Monster?

Categories: Cover Story, Crime

Photo by Max Burkhalter
Shortly after Tim Miller's teenage daughter Laura went missing from her League City home in September 1984, he had a feeling he wasn't really searching for Laura but for her body.

Six months earlier, a dog had dug up a human skull in a pasture off Calder Road in League City, leading police to the rest of what turned out to be a 25-year-old woman who'd disappeared in October 1983. Heide Fye lived with her parents, about three blocks from the Millers. The medical examiner believed she'd been beaten to death. She was last seen at the same convenience store where Laura's mother dropped Laura off in September 1984. TheĀ 16-year-old had planned to use the pay phone to call her boyfriend and walk home afterward.

Miller was bothered by the coincidence.

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40 Weeks Later, No One Has Been Charged With the Murders of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson

Brian Stauffer
The bodies were impossible to miss. They were the first thing the beer-truck delivery man saw when he stepped out to haul the trash to the dumpster behind the little convenience store on Bolivar Point on Friday morning, March 7, 2014. They'd been left in a messy pile and could almost be mistaken for stacked mannequins if it weren't for the trail of blood dribbling toward the street.

One was dressed in men's clothing and work boots and was lying face-down on the pavement. Her head was swaddled in a reddish-brown plaid sheet that covered her face entirely and caught most of the blood. She was small-framed and only about five feet tall, and at first detectives mistook her for a teenage boy because of her clothes. She'd been beaten to death, with the killing blows administered to her head. A young black woman was piled on top of her, their legs tangled. Pretty with a triangle of a face composed of high cheekbones and a small rosebud mouth, the woman was even shorter, with long, dark hair. Her large brown eyes were wide open and blank, her mouth shaped in an almost-perfect circle of surprise. A quarter-size gunshot wound marked her right temple.

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Great Hair, Stellar Entertainment: We're Really Going to Miss Rick Perry

For the past 14 years, the state of Texas has been run by the guy with the best head of hair in professional politics. Now we are reaching the end of an era. Come January 20, Gov. Rick Perry will leave office after serving the longest gubernatorial term in the state's history, roughly 5,110 days. Whether he follows through on his threat to go into quiet California Dreamin' retirement or takes the more likely path and tries another quixotic run at the White House, one thing is certain: We're going to miss that hair and the strange and wondrous mind beneath that gorgeous dome.

Perry has been many things to us in Texas -- an Aggie, a Sam Rayburn-inspired Democrat, a state legislator, a more-conservative-than-your-most--conservative-relative Republican, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor -- but he has also been something infinitely more priceless -- dear Lord, even when his policies have been the stuff of nightmares, Perry has been entertaining.

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Life Hacks: Armed With Smartphones, Young Houston Entrepreneurs Work to Live, Not Live to Work

Categories: Cover Story

Vaughn Chung, 22 and a student at the University of Houston, doesn't have a job. Correction: He doesn't have "a" job. Subsequent further correction: He doesn't have a job as most people define the term, though he certainly works and makes money.

Every Friday and Saturday from about 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., he's in his car getting paid to give people rides home from the bars. If he's feeling like making an extra bit of effort, he'll keep going until 4 a.m. in order to pick up some of the strip-club crowd when those venues close.

It's exciting work and he meets exciting people doing it. Strippers and escorts make up part of his clientele, but also celebrities and other notable people who need a ride.

"One time I picked up the road manager of a bunch of metal bands, Ozzy and the like," says Chung. "She asked me to take her to this vegan restaurant in the ghetto. I said okay, and apparently she thought I was cool enough to ask if I'd pick her up afterwards. I took her to the venue. This was Walters, because she was there for Senses Fail."

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Setting New Standards in Stupid: The 2014 Turkeys of the Year

Categories: Cover Story

John Ueland
Albert Einstein once said that the only difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. Obviously Einstein didn't factor the Turkey of the Year, a creature with a seemingly infinite capacity for senseless, ludicrous and ill-advised decisions, into the equation.

This has been a remarkable year for turkeyism and we had to make some truly tough choices in determining which turkeys had outrun, outflapped and out-dumbed all the competition. It was the best of times -- because there were so many turkeys to choose from -- and it was the worst of times -- because seriously, there were so many viable befeathered options.

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Selling Homes, Ruining Lives: Getting Rich in Real Estate the Scott Wizig Way

Categories: Cover Story

Forget those late-night infomercials -- here's how you get rich in real estate:

First, find a city with a large population of vulnerable consumers. We're talking first-time home buyers, undocumented immigrants, people with no credit or with credit shot to hell. Houston will work perfectly -- these folks are on their own here.

Next, get thee to the Secretary of State and incorporate a boatload of limited partnerships. Go crazy. When it comes to LPs and LLCs, there's no such thing as "too much." Now, pluck one of these shell corporations at random and go down to the courthouse on the first Tuesday of the month, and buy whatever dilapidated properties you can. No windows? No problem. You aren't going to live there.

Now go around the city and illegally slap your ugly and un-ignorable bandit signs all over the place. Between those suckers and your Greensheet ads, you're going to get a ton of traffic. That's why you'll want a smooth-talking sales force. Mind you, these people don't need licenses, because they're selling your property on your behalf. That way, they're out of the reach of the Texas Real Estate Commission, which has jurisdiction only over licensed personnel.

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