Hello, dear readers of the Inquirer Morning Newsletter, and happy Friday.

First: In recent years, Philadelphia has accounted for one out of 10 homicide exonerations in the U.S. — a per capita rate 25 times higher than the rest of the country — and it’s raising serious questions.

Then: An art conservator found something hiding under two priceless portraits of Mexican royalty that will soon hang in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

And: Vaccine hesitancy among Republican men is soaring, so what are political party and public health officials doing to reach them? Not much, our reporting shows.

P.S. As you prepare for the weekend, keep an eye on the allergy sufferer in your life: Tree and grass pollens are forming an “alliance of torment.”

— Tommy Rowan (@tommyrowan, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Philly’s overturned murder cases call decades of homicide investigations into question

Philadelphia has seen a startling wave of exonerations: 20 murder convictions tossed since 2018, most of them hinging on some alleged misconduct by homicide detectives or prosecutors.

In the last two years, the city accounted for one out of 10 homicide exonerations in the country.

But similar allegations exist in scores of cases, in which witnesses, defendants, or lawyers said detectives hid evidence or coerced statements through threats, physical abuse, or prolonged isolation. Those exonerations cast a new light on Philly’s homicide-clearance rate, which was among the highest in the country for years, and plummeted after reforms were adopted in 2014. Read the full story from reporter Samantha Melamed.

How the mystery of the royal portraits came to light as the Art Museum prepped for its grand expansion

When the Frank Gehry-designed galleries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art open today, paired formal portraits of Agustín de Iturbíde, emperor of Mexico, and his wife, the empress, Ana María, painted by Josephus Arias Huarte in 1822, will be on display, hung in a prominent corner.

But that is not all that will be there.

These two portraits are actually four portraits.

As reporter Stephan Salisbury writes, it all started in 2017, when an art conservator was scrutinizing works for an exhibition and noticed, staring up at her from within the belly of the empress of Mexico, was an eye.

Helpful COVID-19 Resources

Here’s when you need to wear a mask, according to CDC guidance. We broke it down with our expert-informed guide, whether or not you’re vaccinated.

This is what we know about rare “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections in vaccinated people.

Here’s what you need to know about taking allergy medicines before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Philly area? Use our lookup tool.

What you need to know today

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Lucky duck.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

That’s interesting

🎻 Live. On stage. With an audience. Opera Philadelphia’s abbreviated Tosca at the Mann seemed like old times to classical music critic David Patrick Stearns.

🍻 Here is a list of the best things to do in Philly this weekend and next week.

🏈 Aaron Rodgers once explained why Jalen Hurts will face so much pressure this season with the Eagles, writes sports columnist Mike Sielski.

🚣 Drexel and Temple seniors are grateful for a fifth year and another shot at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.


“As more people get vaccinated, I am finding myself feeling increasingly hopeful, as if we might actually be closing in on the end — if only we can take the long, hard lessons of the last 14 months and not take so much for granted,” writes columnist Helen Ubiñas.

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | Typewriters

Last summer, the pandemic forced Pamela Rogow to close her WPM Typewriter Shop in Mount Airy to the public. So the former museum exhibit and experience designer decided to move her operation outside, creating a Garden of Typewriters.