When Jim McElhatton left The Washington Times to join Dinolt Becnel & Wells Investigative Group as an investigator in early 2015, he pledged to keep his hand in journalism by writing an occasional freelance article on important topics that interest him. Last summer he published “Invisible Tape,” about a man convicted of murder seeking an audio recording which was lost by the police and which he believes, if found, will exonerate him of the murder. This week Jim published again in the Washington City Paper, this time about a man named Franklin Frye who died in May after spending forty-five years in St Elizabeths Hospital, after being adjudicated not guilty be reason of insanity in 1971 for allegedly stealing a woman’s necklace worth about twenty dollars.
Mr. Frye’s story is both horrific and heart-wrenching, and there is perhaps nobody who could have told it better than Jim, who is not only an exceptional investigator and an evocative writer. He is, most notably, a man with abundant compassionate who loves to tell the stories of people whose lives may have otherwise passed by, perhaps only noticed by a few, had Jim not seen something in them worth investigating further and sharing with the rest of us through his writing. If you haven’t read Jim’s article about Mr. Frye, you can find it here.
Another example of Jim’s gift locating and telling the stories of amazing people who have slipped through the cracks is his phenomenal article published in The Washington Times in 2012. This article is about Ken Zacher, a white high school basketball coach in Oklahoma who in 1971 refused to follow a racist directive from his bosses. The high school’s administration wanted Mr. Zacher to ask his team captain, an African American player duly elected by his teammates, to step down, rather than have the young man appear at a ceremony with a white homecoming queen. After refusing, Mr. Zacher was fired—despite an exceptional winning record—and he died not long afterward in relative obscurity. It was Jim who researched Mr. Zacher’s important story, and he didn’t do it for “click bait” or to sell newspapers. Jim did it because he believed it was a story that should be told.
Mr. Frye’s story also needed to be told, and we are grateful to Jim for writing this important article on his own initiative and on his own time. While our firm can’t take any credit for the article, we’re immensely proud to be affiliated with someone who makes the world a little better through the gifts he’s been given. Would that more people did the same.