Reporters: Shot in the Dark

Melvin Steakley, 37, religion editor of the Houston Chronicle, had spent a long night making up Saturday morning's church news section. At 11:30 p.m., with a jaunty farewell, he left the Chronicle offices; sometime later, he climbed in his Volkswagen parked near by and depressed the clutch pedal as he got ready to start the car. There was a muffled report. Steakley staggered out, cried for help and collapsed on the sidewalk. He died before help came.

A .32-cal. pistol had been taped to the steering column of the Volkswagen, aiming upwards. A thin wire had connected the trigger...

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