News & Politics

Washingtonian’s Best Longreads of 2016

Washingtonian published some memorable longform articles in 2016: The story of a gruesome torture session in McLean, a deep dive into how Donald Trump lost his DC restaurants, an examination of the rise and fall of a suburban megachurch, and an audacious plan to turn around the fortunes of a sinking island. Here are 9 Washingtonian stories worth reading again.

How John Hinckley Lives Now by Eddie Dean

John Hinckley mugshot
Photograph of Hinckley in Williamsburg by Jae Donnelly for

Before his release in September, the man who shot Ronald Reagan spent up to half of each month on furlough at his mother’s Virginia home. He earned a driver’s license, went to the movies, and bought cat food at the local PetSmart. Through a trove of documents buried in a DC courthouse, Eddie Dean tells the story of what life can be like 35 years after you try to kill the President.

What Really Happened at Politico by Luke Mullins

Politico Photo-illustration by Miles Donovan. Photographs of VandeHei, Harris, and Allbritton by Matthew Worden; Schwartz, Allen, and Kingsley by Brad Barket/Getty Images.
Photo-illustration by Miles Donovan. Photographs of VandeHei, Harris, and Allbritton by Matthew Worden; Schwartz, Allen, and Kingsley by Brad Barket/Getty Images.

The team that built Washington’s most unconventional modern media juggernaut went through an ugly divorce earlier this year, thanks largely to the most conventional of reasons: ego, power, and money. Luke Mullins goes behind the curtain to explain what happened.

The Nasty Battles Over Solidcore by Courtney Rubin

Anne Mahlum. Photograph by John Loomis.
Photograph by John Loomis.

The founder of Solidcore, the multimillion dollar homegrown fitness empire of which Michelle Obama’s a fan, is a force to reckon with. In the midst of building a workout routine that’ll leave you in pain for a week, Anne Mahlum fought through legal wars with the ex-bodybuilder who owned the first machines and the ex-boyfriend who helped start the business. Courtney Rubin unearths the full story.

My Mr. Chemotherapy Contest by Luke Mullins

Illustrations by Mark Matcho
Illustrations by Mark Matcho.

Who knew chemotherapy could be funny? After over a year of treatment, author Luke Mullins looks back on his failed plot to become the most popular guy in the cancer ward, thwarted by his charming nemesis: Ben. While the chemo ravaged Mullins’ body, Ben remained infuriatingly positive. Only until Mullins can reconcile the reality of the treatment can he move forward.

The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch by Tiffany Stanley

C.J. Mahaney was a Takoma Park pot smoker when he found God and opened a church. Over the next 40 years, he expanded it from a hippie congregation into an evangelical empire. Sovereign Grace Ministries. Photograph by James Thompson. Photo-illustration by Paul Spella.
Photograph by James Thompson. Photo-illustration by Paul Spella.

The Catholic Church isn’t the only faith organization with a disturbing culture of child sex-abuse. Sovereign Grace Ministries, an evangelical empire started in Takoma Park 40 years ago, found itself embroiled in scandal after victims of abuse started speaking out. The rise of the church was just as meteoric as its fall.

A Home Invasion, A Torture Session, One Lawyer Nearly Killing Another—the Gruesome November Night in One of Washington’s Wealthiest Suburbs by Jason Fagone

Photo by Evy Mages

Andrew Schmuhl forced his way into Leo Fisher and Sue Duncan’s home, torturing and nearly killing them before being arrested wearing nothing but an adult diaper. Was it a calculated act of revenge—or an addict’s rampage? Jason Fagone retells the unbelievable crime and the riveting trial that followed.  

Tangier Island is Sinking. Its Population is Sinking. And These Guys Want to Make it the Oyster Capital of the East Coast by Harrison Smith

Photo by Joshua Cogan.

A couple of big-city types—along with a hip-hop producer, a failed gubernatorial candidate, and a pool guy—want to transform Tangier Island into the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster capital. There’s just one little problem: The island that the company wants to turn into oyster central is quickly sinking due to climate change.

The Strange, Crazy Afterlife of a Reality TV Star by Luke Mullins

Photograph by Christopher Lane
Photograph by Christopher Lane.

You either know Tareq Salahi from the time he and his then wife Michaele crashed a 2009 White House dinner or from his hellish divorce from the Real Housewives star. Outside of the tabloid spotlight, Salahi’s life tumbled into despair. But there’s much more to the story, including a slew of last-ditch efforts to cash in on his Housewives fame. Top on the list? A “Real Housewhinos” celebrity cruise.

How Donald Trump Lost His DC Restaurants by Jessica Sidman

Illustration by Steve Brodner.
Illustration by Steve Brodner.

Chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian were supposed to be running the restaurants in DC’s Trump hotel—until Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants. Jessica Sidman sifted through the legal documents to tell what happened next.

Web producer/writer

Greta started as an editorial fellow in January 2016 and joined as a full-time staff member that August. She now works as a web producer and writer. She was previously an intern at Slate and National Geographic and graduated from the University of Missouri’s Journalism School. She lives in Adams Morgan.