Max McCoy

Max McCoy

Max McCoy is an award-winning author and journalist. A native Kansan, he started his career at the Pittsburg Morning Sun and was soon writing for national magazines. His investigative stories on unsolved murders, serial killers and hate groups earned him first-place awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors and other organizations. McCoy has also written more than 20 books, the most recent of which is "Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River," named a Kansas Notable Book by the state library. "Elevations" also won the National Outdoor Book Award, in the history/biography category.

Police car rooftop strobe lights

Motorists shouldn’t fear the cops. Let’s make sure the Kansas ‘two-step’ is left behind for good.

By: - September 17, 2023

Imagine you’re driving on Interstate 70 across Kansas in a used Winnebago you’ve just bought. It’s before dawn and you’re outside Salina and your spouse and your two kids are passengers in the RV, and you’re passing through on a family vacation. Everything seems normal until a car comes up behind you and pulls over […]


There’s a spike in youth suicides. Easy access to guns is part of the problem.  

By: - September 10, 2023

There’s a book I turn to every now and then to remind myself not to surrender to despair. It’s called “Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World” and it’s a photo album about the forgotten and mostly hidden places around town. The author is Emily Cowan, who writes in the introduction that she lived in […]


After a century, states are loosening child labor laws. Where’s the outrage?

By: - September 3, 2023

When Jacob Riis came to Emporia in 1902 to give a lecture, audiences knew what they could expect. Twelve years earlier, he had published “How the Other Half Lives,” which exposed through candid photographs the living conditions of the poor in the slums of New York City. The Danish-American muckraker’s subject for his Kansas audience […]

Dion Scavina suffers during historic heat wave in Topeka

Topeka’s unsheltered faced a heat crisis. But the feeling of abandonment hurt most.

By: - August 28, 2023

Look and see. With faces burnished by the record-breaking summer heat, they squint at the bright afternoon world with weary eyes. Their eyes burn when they talk about the troubles that brought them here to this street in north Topeka, to lie in sun-faded tents below Interstate 70 or to sit on the curb waiting […]

Marion County Record distribution workers Bev Baldwin, left, and Barb Creamer notify a patron that Wednesday's edition has not yet arrived

Inside Marion County Record, sting of loss — and a warning for American journalism — remains

By: - August 20, 2023

Bev Baldwin and Barb Creamer have worked in the back room of the Marion County Record for four years, and their job Wednesday morning was to fold the papers and get them ready for delivery once the newspaper bundles arrived. But the papers were late and, as the only employees yet in the building, they […]

Ray Katzer, of Luminous Neon, paints the Beneficient name onto the company's office in downtown Hesston. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas government caters to the rich. Economic development should work for us all.

By: - July 30, 2023

In years to come the case of Brad Heppner and his cynical notion of a “pawn shop for the rich” may come to epitomize the avaricious bipartisan recklessness with which our Kansas politicians have catered to the powerful at the expense of everyone else. Now that the Securities and Exchange Commission is breathing hard down […]


Kansas faces grim spike in train-pedestrian deaths. We can do more than label victims ‘trespassers’

By: - May 21, 2023

At age 85, John Speece was using a walker the afternoon of May 4 to cross the triple railway tracks on Commercial Street in downtown Emporia. He was struck and killed by an eastbound BNSF freight, one of 80 trains that pass through the city day and night, at speeds of up to 40 mph. […]

This April 2022 photo shows the newly opened office of Beneficient, a Kansas financial institution described as being a "pawn shop" for the rich.

Let’s chat about the Kansas Legislature’s threat to defund bank regulation. It was dangerous.

By: - May 7, 2023

I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of Kansas about banking — not with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking and this thing called TEFFI but with the overwhelming majority of us whose interaction with banks is the making of deposits, the begging for loans and sometimes the […]

Oath Keepers carrying rifles

Buried in a leaked membership list of Oath Keepers from Kansas, a chilling set of skills

By: - January 22, 2023

Few things surprise me anymore. Journalists look into all kinds of assorted (and sorted and sordid) data, and it’s our job to tease meaningful stories out of the information, whether it’s a stack of boxes from a cold case murder to a spreadsheet on what the local city council spends on travel. But when I […]

Kansas Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach chats with reporters in front of cameras

Has the dark night of our political soul passed? Not when Kobach comes out of the shadows

By: - November 13, 2022

Less than three hours before the polls opened on Election Day last week there was a total eclipse of the moon. Called a Blood Moon because the orb turns a dusky red as the shadow of the earth passes over it, totality was reached at 4:17 a.m. — and it was the only eclipse ever […]


Kansas prosecutors must be held to a higher standard. To do otherwise courts injustice.

By: - October 23, 2022

It’s time for the Kansas Supreme Court to make it harder for bad prosecutors to escape discipline for misconduct. Prosecuting attorneys have unparalleled discretion in the criminal justice system to bring charges, offer diversions, forge plea agreements, or take a defendant to trial. Their mistakes could send innocent people to prison or jeopardize the prosecution […]

Emporia State University president Ken Hush, says financial realities compelled ESU to realign the budget through a process that includes employee layoffs and changes in academic programs.

Emporia State University is about to suspend tenure. Here’s why you should care.

By: - September 13, 2022

I may be fired for writing this. It would be an improper firing, a violation of my First Amendment rights as a university professor, an infringement of the ability to pursue my discipline and state the truth as I see it in the marketplace of ideas. The given reason might be restructuring, a need for […]