Sentinel reporter and editor recognized by Headliner Awards

Previous Justice of the Peace for Presidio County David Beebe, left, holds a metal cross in place while welder and fabricator Marc Declercq, who made the cross, shovels cement around it. The men recently placed crosses at the gravesites of two unidentified male migrants buried in Marfa’s Cementerio De La Merced. Photo by Mary Cantrell.

TEXAS –– The Big Bend Sentinel’s reporting has been recognized by The Headliners Foundation’s 2022 Showcase Awards for Enterprise and Innovation in Journalism.

“In rural Far West Texas, justices of the peace confront a death-investigation system that’s failing unknown migrants” by The Big Bend Sentinel’s Mary Cantrell has been awarded a Certificate of Merit in the awards’ Storytelling category. The piece was published in partnership with Texas Monthly, and was edited by Big Bend Sentinel Managing Editor Allegra Hobbs and Texas Monthly Deputy Editor Sandi Villareal.

The piece took an in-depth look at the obstacles facing rural justices of the peace in the Big Bend region as they work to identify and repatriate the remains of unknown migrants found along the border. It also contends with the shortcomings of the state’s investigation system, which often leaves grieving family members with more questions than answers.

The Headliner Awards recognize work from “professional, Texas-based news providers — print, broadcast or digital — that distribute at least monthly and that adhere to the highest journalistic principles.” Cantrell’s story was one of six stories recognized in the storytelling category for work from 2022.

The piece was published in The Big Bend Sentinel’s December 15, 2022 issue, and can be read at