NICHOLAS J.C. PISTOR / BIO
Nicholas J. C. Pistor is an author, investigative reporter, historian, and media consultant. Over two decades, he has worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and for CBS News’s 48 Hours. He has written two books, Shooting Lincoln and the Ax Murders of Saxtown, and has appeared on nearly every major television news network, including NBC’s Today Show, Forensic Files, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and was a guest reporter for CNN’s Nancy Grace.
Pistor's reporting has spurred federal investigations, resignations, and state audits.
In 2014, Pistor was a frequent live guest contributor to Fox News's coverage of the Ferguson riots, where he appeared nightly with anchor Shepard Smith.
In 2008, his investigation of financial abuses within the Illinois death penalty system led to criminal investigations and new legislation signed by the governor. Pistor's reporting revealed private investigators and lawyers fleeced the state for millions. Illinois Appellate Court Judge Milton Wharton declared Pistor's reporting “thoroughly researched and thoroughly painful.”
Illinois formally ended its death penalty soon after citing financial and moral abuses.
Pistor garnered national attention in 2009 for his reporting on Christopher Coleman, a bodyguard for televangelist Joyce Meyer who was accused of strangling his wife and two children in order to start a new life with a mistress. His reporting led national broadcasts as he broke new details about the murders.
Pistor was the lead reporter and consultant for CBS's "The Writing on the Wall," which aired on 48 Hours Mystery. He worked with legendary CBS producer Susan Zirinsky.
Pistor also helped produce the 48 Hours special, "Death in Dark Water," on the death of actress Natalie Wood.
In August 2010, Pistor noticed faint stains on the iconic stainless steel Gateway Arch. His investigation revealed that the national monument is corroding. The stories generated national headlines and disclosed that the Arch suffered from lax maintenance. The Gateway Journalism Review reported: "Pistor's Eyes Provide Impetus for a Nose for News." His reporting brought awareness to the monument's maintenance issues. In 2013, an international landmarks organization named it one of the world's most endangered. The National Parks Service began a program to restore the Arch.
"It was a perfect example of a reporter noticing that something didn’t seem quite right and asking questions," said Jean Buchanan, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor in charge of investigative projects.
In 2011, his dogged pursuit of court records was displayed in a newspaper investigation that showcased the ugly side of high-stakes divorces. One story revealed how lawyers and private investigators used Heidi Fleiss, the infamous Hollywood madame, to coach and coerce an exotic dancer to make false claims against their client’s high-profile ex-husband, mortgage executive Ray Vinson. Leaving Vinson’s reputation in tatters, they walked out of the courthouse with the lion’s share of a $70 million divorce.
Pistor's reporting paved the way for Vinson to re-open and re-litigate his divorce case.
Pistor also wrote human interest stories during the St. Louis Cardinals' epic seven game World Series quest in 2011. And in 2012 he reported on Missouri's contentious U.S. Senate battle between Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Todd Akin, whose candidacy was ruined when he said women can somehow avoid pregnancy after a "legitimate rape."
For four years he covered St. Louis City Hall, where he chronicled the inner workings of a major American city. His investigation into St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter led to her resignation.
Before joining the Post-Dispatch, Pistor graduated from the Jesuit-affiliated Saint Louis University.
After college, Pistor began a decade-long research quest after a Catholic priest rekindled his memory of the Saxtown massacre, a century-old unsolved quintuple murder of a German immigrant farm family.
He spent countless hours in libraries throughout the American Midwest tracking down old newspaper articles about the case, and in many instances, getting them translated from German to English.
The Ax Murders of Saxtown, his first book, was released on January 14, 2014. It almost immediately went to a second printing. The Kansas City Star named it one of the "100 best books of 2014."
Pistor grew up in the small Midwest town of Millstadt, Illinois, a few miles from the Saxtown murder scene, where talk of the crime kept him awake as a boy.
St. Louis Magazine, in its annual A-List issue, named Nick the city's best Twitterer.
His most recent book, Shooting Lincoln, was released by Hachette in September 2017. The Wall Street Journal called it: "A gripping read...[written with] urgency and flair."
From 2018 to 2020, Pistor served as a senior consultant to Macquarie Group, an international bank and hedge fund, as it considered a multi-billion dollar bid to privatize the St. Louis Lambert-International Airport. Pistor's research and advice showed the process and project was doomed by numerous bureaucratic and political problems. Based on that, Macquarie dropped its bid, saving it millions. The entire privatization project was eventually killed six months later by government leaders.