C.J. LeMaster has served as WLBT’s Chief Investigative Reporter since April 2016.
Since then, he’s exposed problems with the Hinds County criminal justice system, highlighted potential secrecy regarding unethical conduct among Mississippi educators, revealed a prison extortion scheme that stretched across the state and investigated municipalities which violated state law by keeping documents from the public.
In one case, the Mississippi Ethics Commission ruled the city of Jackson violated the state's public records act by denying WLBT settlement agreements executed by the city as part of a 3 On Your Side investigation into the spending of taxpayer dollars.
Most recently, exclusive information uncovered during a 3 On Your Side investigation into recent deadly officer-involved shootings and a lack of transparency by the Jackson Police Department helped lead to a reversal in a decades-old city policy that once prevented the release of the names of officers responsible in those shootings.
You can check out C.J.'s latest investigative pieces here.
Before coming to the Capital City as a reporter and weekend anchor in December 2013, C.J. worked at WTVA/WLOV in Tupelo, Mississippi, for nearly a decade in several roles, some of that while pursuing a broadcast journalism degree from Mississippi State.
After graduation, he got hired as a reporter there and then went on to anchor some of the station’s top-rated newscasts.
C.J. was raised in Booneville, where he began his journalism career at Northeast Mississippi Community College. He worked in both print and television during his time in college.
Over the years, C.J. has received more than a dozen Mississippi Associated Press awards ranging from photography to public affairs reporting and achievement. In 2018, C.J.'s investigative piece, 3 On Your Side Investigates: Access Denied won Best Investigative Report in the Southeast Regional Emmy's Excellence in my Market Awards, where journalists from television markets across five states compete. That same year, judges with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized his investigative work on that story with an Emmy nomination.
In addition, several of C.J.’s stories warranted national coverage: among them, the active shooter situation at Delta State University, the historic April 2011 tornado outbreak and a 2013 ricin investigation that implicated a Mississippi man in a plot to poison President Barack Obama.
When he’s not working, C.J. enjoys finding new restaurants in central Mississippi and exploring the area with a camera to support his photography habit.
If you have something you want C.J. to look into, call the 3 On Your Side Investigates Line at 769-2300-TIP.
2018 Emmy Nomination, Best Investigative Report
2018 Excellence in my Market Award, Best Investigative Report
2017 AP Award, Best Investigative Report (Third Place)
2014 AP Award, Best Spot News
2013 AP Award, Best Feature Photography
2013 AP Award, Achievement
2013 AP Award, Franchise Reporting
2012 AP Award, Achievement
2012 AP Award, Franchise Reporting
2012 AP Award, Best News Photography
2012 AP Award, Best News Photography
2012 AP Award, Spot News Story
2011 AP Award, Best Feature Photography
2010 AP Award, Best Feature Story
2004 Emmy Nomination, First Down on FOX – WLOV-TV
Mississippi State University, Broadcasting/Public Relations
Mississippi’s homicide rate outpaces every other state in the U.S., according to an analysis of data from the state’s crime lab and the most recent yearly compilations of data on killings from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Less than a week after Mississippi became the first state nationwide to let its mask mandate expire, the Mississippi State Department of Health reports a surge in coronavirus cases not seen in seven weeks.
Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are conducting clinical trials with the same experimental drug used to treat President Donald Trump for COVID-19 days ago, meaning Mississippians could also get the chance to experience that same treatment.
Over nearly two weeks, Mississippi’s daily average number of coronavirus cases has stabilized at much higher levels than health experts have hoped, according to a seven-day average of new case data from the state’s department of health.
As video of a Mississippi man taking his own life continues to go viral more than a week after it happened -- despite social media companies' efforts to ban the video -- one of the victim’s friends blames Facebook for not acting fast enough to stop people from copying it.
While Tuesday’s COVID-19 numbers show a decline in the number of new cases and no reported deaths, something Mississippi hasn’t had in nearly three months, it also gives the state’s hospital system a bit of a break before flu season arrives and a potential spike in cases from college students.
A spike in gun violence over the last few weeks has led to August being the deadliest month in Jackson’s history, according to an analysis of 45 years’ worth of monthly homicide data from the city’s police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Schools in Jackson and Harrison counties have reported more coronavirus cases among teachers, staff and students, than any other county in Mississippi since children returned to class, according to newly-released data by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
As tens of thousands of Mississippi students returned to classes Monday, the state’s health officer reports students and teachers who have tested positive for the coronavirus since Friday have more than doubled, with the spread now reaching school districts in 71 of the state’s 82 counties.
A north Mississippi coroner’s claim that the Mississippi State Dept. of Health inaccurately recorded deaths as caused by COVID-19 -- even if the virus played no role in that death -- has been debunked by 3 On Your Side and deemed “ridiculous” by the agency.
While weekly totals of coronavirus cases dropped Sunday for the first time in two months, health care providers warn that the decrease may not truly reflect the pandemic across the state because cases continue to go under reported from urgent care clinics in multiple counties.
With nearly two thousand new coronavirus cases in just two days, a near-record number of deaths and the full brunt of the virus’ impact yet to be felt in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves still doesn’t think the state should shut down.
As coronavirus cases rapidly increase in Mississippi -- with nearly 10,000 added in the last week alone -- Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday he used week-old data from early July to make decisions on whether counties should face greater restrictions.