Ronald J. Lawrence's reporting career began at the Edwardsville, Ill. Intelligencer in 1954 when he was 20. One of his first assignments was to cover a gangland killing on St. Louis' East Side. The body had been in the trunk of a car for three days in July. "It left a lasting impression," he says. Not long after, he was threatened with jail by the sheriff after he wrote a story that gambling equipment seized in a raid by state police had been returned to the owners without a court order.
From there, he worked for the Alton, Ill., Telegraph, the Rockford, Ill., Morning Star and the Delaware County, Pa., Daily Times, mostly reporting police news. In 1961, he won first place in the Public Service Series Category in the annual competition of the Pennsylvania Press Conference for a series of stories on vote frauds.
The following year he was hired by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The next 10 years were spent covering the city police beat. He considers it one of the most rewarding aspects of his career. Not only did he learn police techniques, but he began his education in organized crime and developed invaluable sources.
In the early 1970s, he became an investigative reporter for the Post-Dispatch, specializing in organized crime and criminal matters. In 1975, he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for an extensive investigation of corruption by a former Missouri governor and his administration.
He retired on disability in 1988.