News

Eli Sanders Wins a Pulitzer Prize

But the Reaction from the Survivor of the South Park Attacks—the Subject of the Winning Story—Means a Lot More to Us

On Monday, April 16, Eli Sanders won a Pulitzer Prize for "The Bravest Woman in Seattle," a feature published in the June 15, 2011, issue of The Stranger. The piece was described by the Pulitzer committee as a "haunting story of a woman who survived a brutal attack that took the life of her partner, using the woman's brave courtroom testimony and the details of the crime to construct a moving narrative."

That story was the third feature in a series on the South Park attacks and subsequent murder trial. The first piece in the series, "While South Park Slept" (July 29, 2009), considered the crime in light of the changing character of South Park. The second piece in the series, "The Mind of Kalebu" (September 23, 2009), profiled the assailant, Isaiah Kalebu, who broke into a home shared by the two women in the middle of the night, raped them at knifepoint, and killed one of the women, Teresa Butz, 39. That article exposed major loopholes in the way mentally unstable criminal suspects are handled in Washington State.

The trial testimony of the survivor of the attacks, Jennifer Hopper, formed the basis of "The Bravest Woman in Seattle." Following Kalebu's conviction, Hopper publicly identified herself by name for the first time in a follow-up essay in The Stranger called "I Would Like You to Know My Name."

After the Pulitzer announcement, Hopper stopped by the offices of The Stranger to congratulate Sanders. She said, "Being the subject in his piece—feeling honored that he wrote it—that was enough for me. But now seeing it recognized that way..." She paused. "Teresa was known for having a very loud, exuberant clap. And that's what I pictured the whole day. I couldn't help but feel her nearby, and I felt such gratitude. I felt an intense sense of pride."

The Stranger is the fifth alternative newsweekly in the country to earn a Pulitzer. (The most recent was LA Weekly in 2007.) The award comes with a $10,000 prize. Locally, Sanders is joined by Seattle Times reporters Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong, who won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for their series on Washington State's practice of overprescribing methadone to people in state-subsidized health care.

Jennifer Hopper continues to live in Seattle, though she no longer lives in South Park. On April 28, she will visit Madison, Wisconsin, to speak at the Voices of Courage Awards presented by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She will also be singing as a representative of the Angel Band Project. Proceeds from the Angel Band Project's album, Take You with Me, go to helping victims of sexual violence. recommended

 

Comments (19) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Well done and well deserved Eli Sanders!

Naomi
Posted by Wellington on April 18, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
2
Well done and well deserved Eli Sanders!!!
Posted by Wellington on April 18, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Mrs Jarvie 3
Congratulations Eli! The Stranger deserves so much more credit than it gets. And Jennifer's reaction emphasizes that The Stranger provides an indispensable service to the Seattle community.
Posted by Mrs Jarvie on April 18, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
YanaBanana 4
Congratulations to Eli and The Stranger! You consistently do excellent work. I read you all of the time and I live in Maryland.
Posted by YanaBanana on April 19, 2012 at 7:26 AM · Report this
staring 5
The Pulitzer got it right. This was one of the most moving articles I have ever read. Congratulations Eli and The Stranger!
Posted by staring on April 19, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
Kitts 6
Every time I see a mention of Ms. Hopper, she always comes off well. I'm glad to hear the prize made her happy-- it was a well-deserved award. I hope it draws attention to the Angel Band Project, too.
Posted by Kitts on April 19, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Puty 7
All the best to Seattle's bravest woman and, again, congrats to Eli and the Stranger.
Posted by Puty on April 19, 2012 at 3:43 PM · Report this
8
I agree with all of this, but how long will 'Winner of the Pulitzer Prize' be displayed under our beloved news source title? Getting too big for your britches...
Posted by seattleisgreat on April 19, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
9
I agree with all of this, but for how long will 'Winner of the Pulitzer Prize' be posted under our beloved local newspaper title? Getting a little big for yr britches...
Posted by seattleisgreat on April 19, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
10
@8 Oh come on, it's been less than a week. And this is solid external plaudits. Maybe the Stranger is more grown up than you give it credit for.
Posted by Brashion on April 20, 2012 at 7:21 AM · Report this
11
@8 A Pulitzer is a big deal, or didn't you understand that from reading this article? Let them gloat, and nice job, Eli and all The Stranger!
Posted by frenchgirl on April 20, 2012 at 8:50 AM · Report this
12
Well deserved! Also, my thoughts still go out to the bravest woman in Seattle who I have thought of many times since reading that article.
Posted by sweet g on April 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
13
I hope I am never in a position where I actually gain from the loss of someone so special. It's been almost three years. Perhaps it is time for Eli Sanders, The Stranger, and the so-called Bravest Woman in Seattle to let Teresa rest in peace. Teresa has always and will always have my bravery points.
Posted by blog1919 on April 22, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
14
I hope I am never in a position where I actually gain from the loss of someone so special. It's been almost three years. Perhaps it is time for Eli Sanders, The Stranger, and the so-called Bravest Woman in Seattle to let Teresa rest in peace. Teresa has always and will always have my bravery points.
Posted by blog1919 on April 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
15
@ 13/14/blog1919, Easy there...and really, you are accusing Hopper of gaining from the loss? If she can raise awareness isn't that the best possible outcome of a horrible situation? Certianly it isn't for you to decide it would be better to stop talking about it. And it is a little crazy to suggest that the Stranger wouldn't report on that story when it was current or mention its Pulitzer. And they used the opportunity to mention the good works Hopper is currently doing to raise awareness. It is hard to imagine the situation having been handled more sensitively, and it seems crazy to criticize when she is just raising awareness. At least have the humility to realize Ms. Hopper probably knows better than you how Ms. Butz would like her story to be used.
Posted by brent.b on April 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM · Report this
16
Not exactly, Brent B. Do you really think I would have the stones to write what I wrote if I didn't know Teresa? I didn't 'decide' it was better to stop talking about it. I knew Teresa for many, many years and I am simply expressing my opinion. And, for the record, Jennifer Hopper isn't the only person raising awareness. There are many others involved in this. Nor, is she 'just' raising awareness. She is seeking attention and I'm certain there is more to come. And, I'm not talking about sensitivity here. It's about profiting from the loss of a life. Sanders profited $10K. So much has been done since Teresa's passing in terms of public awareness that Eli's pulitzer was really just about his recognition and another opportunity for Jennifer Hopper to get back in the spotlight. The only thing that is 'crazy' is that there are people in this world who could destroy the lives of so many from his actions on July 19, 2009. I do not envy Jennifer Hopper and I have sadness for her every single day but she, having known Teresa for ONLY 2 years, does not get to be the authority on everything Teresa Butz.
Posted by blog1919 on April 23, 2012 at 8:31 PM · Report this
thene 17
So the survivor of a violent rape choosing to speak out at an event for the survivors of sexual assault is 'attention seeking'?

This is what we call victim-blaming, dude.
Posted by thene http://thene.dreamwidth.org on April 24, 2012 at 6:28 PM · Report this
18
Well done and well deserved Eli Sanders!
Posted by AdrianoChill on April 24, 2012 at 7:02 PM · Report this
19
I get tears of joy reading this and tears of sadness when I read The Bravest Woman In Seattle. Eli absolutely deserves that award and Jennifer deserves an award for her bravery.
Posted by hifiandrew on August 24, 2012 at 11:02 PM · Report this

Add a comment