This year, Miami New Times investigated a girl's death in Florida's foster care system, exposed the sexual assault epidemic on Miami's cruise ships, and chronicled life in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Our writers got curious about discrimination against Florida's medical marijuana patients, conditions inside a migrant children's shelter in Homestead, and egregious safety violations by Miami's party boat operators. We also took a deeper look at a murder-for-hire plot that left Tallahassee reeling.
Those stories reached hundreds of thousands of readers across the nation, sparking conversation and change. Here are the ten most-read longform stories we published in 2019.
10. Florida Medical Marijuana Patients Face Discrimination at Work and School, by Brittany Shammas: Kaitlin McKeon's predicament illustrates the Catch-22 many patients face in Florida and other states where marijuana is now legal: They can use the drug, but they're not protected from being penalized at work or school as a result.
9. Monument Island Accident Shows Miami Party Boats Can Be Lethal, by Brittany Shammas: Day trips aboard yachts stocked with free-flowing booze and swimsuit-clad revelers are quintessentially Miami. But the public's lack of familiarity with licensing requirements, coupled with the sharing-economy-era mentality that anyone can make a buck renting out their boat, has created a thriving but risky cottage industry.
8. Florida Failed Foster Child Naika Venant, by Jessica Lipscomb: Despite being under the watchful eye of dozens of doctors, therapists, foster parents, and caseworkers, Naika Venant received no meaningful intervention. Instead, the system continued to lead her down a dangerous path, shuffling the teen to more than a dozen foster homes in the last eight months of 2016. It was in one of those homes that she entered the bathroom, logged into Facebook, and hanged herself while filming her final live-stream.
7. Sexual Assault Is the Most Publicly Reported Crime on Cruises, but Companies Say It's Rare, by Meg O'Connor: Since 2016, 220 sexual assaults aboard cruise ships have been reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It is by far the most frequently reported crime on cruises, as has been the case for the past several years.
6. Biogenesis Doctor Pedro Bosch Runs Nuceria Miami Anti-Aging Clinic, by Jerry Iannelli: During a monthlong investigation, New Times confirmed that Tony Bosch, now age 55, founded Nuceria with two business partners after serving time in federal prison for conspiring to deal illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Today, Nuceria, which occupies an unassuming storefront in a Doral strip mall, dispenses testosterone, human-growth-hormone peptides, and some of the other substances that got Bosch in trouble during the Biogenesis affair.
5. Brightline and Tri-Rail Have Killed Dozens in South Florida, by Meg O'Connor: All of the Brightline deaths involved pedestrians, while several of those injured on both lines were in their cars when hit. Many of the casualties were caused by a fatal miscalculation: The victims believed they had enough time to cross the tracks before the train arrived.
4. Children at the Homestead Migrant Shelter Share Stories of Grief, Trauma, and Fear, by Brittany Shammas: The children didn't know when they might be released even though many had family members in the United States who wanted to take them. They heard rumors of kids who tried to escape and were shipped off to worse places. They cried themselves to sleep, marked birthdays that passed without anyone singing to them, and tried to follow the advice their parents shared over the phone: Be patient and don't cause trouble.
3. Feud Between Miami Cop Willy Alvarez and His Neighbor Mark Cantor Escalates in the Roads, by Terence Cantarella: When the police descended on his home that evening in 2008, Mark Cantor was known for creativity, sociability, and open-mindedness. He was not known for stalking, guns, and Nazi salutes.
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2. The Nightmare in the Bahamas Is Far From Over, by Zachary Fagenson: A ten-minute trek up the road revealed what was left of the Mudd. Shacks were split apart, spilling their contents onto the waterlogged earth. The ground was littered with clothing, children's bicycles, shredded suitcases, mattresses, tools, books, family photos, and dislodged toilets and appliances. Crumpled cars were piled together like balled-up waste paper. On the roof of a silver sedan lay the carcass of a dog, its mouth ajar, its eyes already decaying.
1. FSU Professor Dan Markel's Murder Was a Contract Hit, by Steve Miller: Cops say Donna Adelson and her son Charlie, Wendi's older brother, paid $100,000 to have Dan Markel killed. According to law enforcement, they hoped to free Wendi to move with her two preschool-aged sons to South Florida, where she grew up. But almost five years after the murder, neither has been criminally charged.