Magazine article Newsweek

Tab Man: Old School, New Moves

Magazine article Newsweek

Tab Man: Old School, New Moves

Article excerpt

The hotel maid was suspicious. In a guest's room, she found 8-by-10 photographs of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old who had been murdered nine months earlier in Boulder, Colo. On the dresser sat a copy of the three-page ransom note found inside the home. She became alarmed. The hotel was, after all, near Okemos, Mich., hometown of JonBenet's father, John. The maid phoned the FBI, and more calls led to the Boulder police, who quickly ID'd the suspicious character: Jeff Shapiro, freelance reporter for the tabloid Globe.

Shapiro has been the most dogged miner--mainstream or tabloid--of this tabloid gold mine. He has all the aggression of the old-school tab guys, but, like some of the supermarket weeklies, he's putting a much younger (25), less cynical face on the genre. How aggressive is he? He once spent the night in a tree, binoculars in hand, trying to spy on police activity in the Ramseys' house. Shapiro joined the Ramseys' church in Boulder and took communion next to the parents. "He preys on people," says Pamela Griffin, a Ramsey family friend who says Shapiro even dated her daughter to get information. He denies it with a laugh, saying: "I took her out because she was beautiful.''

Shapiro, a graduate of Florida State University who typically has a two-day stubble, sports the '90s tabloid reporter's uniform: blue jeans, black leather jacket and impenetrably dark shades. His biggest scoop, he says, came after Globe published crime-scene photographs showing JonBenet's bound wrist. …

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