Sam Sifton

Sam Sifton is an assistant editor on American Heritage in New York.

Hunt the hacker

Sam Sifton, 19 April 1990

It was only a 75 cent deficit, but Clifford Stoll knew it was important that he figure out its origin. Stoll was on his second day on the job. He had just been hired as computer systems manager at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, a research facility for astrophysicists in Berkeley, California, and his first assignment was to discover why the computer’s books didn’t balance for the previous month.

Crimes of Passion

Sam Sifton, 11 January 1990

Decent people, Teresa Carpenter would assert, aren’t always what they seem. In 1982 William Douglas was working as a cell biologist at Tufts University near Boston, Massachusetts. He was an associate professor on the tenure track, a gifted scientist, and a successful grant-getter. He was married and he lived a quiet suburban life just outside the city with his wife and three children. He was also beginning a relationship with a young, dark-haired woman named Robin Benedict who worked as a prostitute in a bar called Good Time Charlie’s which is in the Combat Zone, Boston’s red-light district. Benedict disappeared in 1983 and today her family mourns the loss of a daughter they never suspected was a prostitute. William Douglas is in jail for her murder.

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