INDIANAPOLIS -- Last year was filled with news that encapsulated every aspect of the human emotion.
We laughed, we cried and everything in between.
From the good to the bad to the downright depressing: These are the stories that Hoosiers read and shared the most in 2017.
We started out 2017 with a stark reminder of the drug abuse problem in the state of Indiana when Indianapolis officers responded to 13 overdoses in a 24-hour period. Local authorities called it an average day, but the response from the story by RTV6 viewers shows just how real this problem has become.
Later in January, a computer glitch allowed Delta Chi fraternity members at IU to order 4,200 patio chairs for .01 each which Menard’s later called “a figment of a computer’s imagination.” The company returned the fraternity’s money but not before getting a letter from U.S. Congressman Jim Banks saying they should honor the sale because the boys were going to resell the chairs for charity.
In February, the deaths of Liberty German and Abigail Williams dominated the news. The two young Delphi girls went missing on February 13 while on a hike along the Monon High Bridge. After a night-long search by friends, family and law enforcement the girls’ bodies were found on the next morning.
Liberty German would be hailed a hero in her own death for capturing video and audio of their suspected killer on her cell phone before they were killed. State police released two grainy images and a short audio clip of a man saying “down the hill” just days after the girls were found dead.
Jacquelyn Watts, 33, a well-known animal activist who served on the board of directors for IndyCLAW was reported missing on March 3 after dropping off her dogs at her parents’ house in Columbus so she could leave for vacation. A witness came forward saying she saw someone who looked like Watts chasing a dog near the Flat Rock River the day she disappeared. Her body was found on a Sandbar days later.
Two exotic dancers told police they were attacked and robbed at a club on Indianapolis’ west side in early March. The incident was captured on video by witnesses inside the club. That video shows a man body slamming one of the girls and punching her while she was down. Both women claim all of the money they earned that Cherri Palace that night was taken.
In April, police advised that the “Felony Lane Gang” was believed to be operating again in central Indiana. Although not an actual gang, the term “Felony Lane Gang” refers to a group of copycat criminals who perpetrate fraud while using the lane farthest from the teller at a bank drive-through. The group originates out of Florida but has spread to several states and has stolen about $23 million from the banking industry since 2012.
A Greenwood man claimed his ex-wife framed him for the kidnapping of his 2-year-old niece the day before he was scheduled to argue for her custody in court. His attorney later obtained surveillance video showing him meeting with his ex-wife at a restaurant to pick up the little girl. The charges were later dismissed.
In May, the story of a people-searching website gained national attention because of the amount of information it makes available to the public. Fortunately, there are ways to secure your information and make it less searchable which you can find in the link below.
In a year marred by political upheaval, a group placing mysterious golden “Trump” toilets across the country gained national attention. At least two golden toilets were spotted in Indiana, with more across the country.
The Muslim Alliance of Indiana called a billboard that appeared on I-465 in June an “attack on all Muslims.” The billboard featured the words “The Perfect Man” – apparently about the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad – followed by a list of attributes including “rapist” and “slave owner.” The Muslim Alliance fought back against the “attack” with their own billboard with a positive message meant to spread information about the Prophet Muhammad.
Also in June, following months of closing announcements from hometown Marsh Supermarkets and their decision to file for bankruptcy and eventually close all stores – two Ohio-based companies came forward and agreed to buy 26 of the stores that were left. Topvalco, which is a subsidiary of Kroger bought 11 of the Marsh locations while Generative Growth II bought 15. Some of the stores were eventually closed, and others were remodeled and reopened under their newly rebranded name later in the year. ––
In early July, the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office released surveillance video of a shootout between an Indianapolis Firefighter and his neighbor after an altercation at their property line. The shooting left a man in critical condition, and the firefighter was not charged because of the video.
One of the top stories of the year was the shooting death of Southport Police Lt. Aaron Allan. Allan was responding to a call for an overturned vehicle when the man inside the vehicle opened fire on him, striking him multiple times. Lt. Allan later died at the hospital.
The suspect in that shooting, Jason Brown, was described as many things by those who knew him. A woman who claimed to have known Brown his entire life told RTV6 he was ‘shy and timid.’ The story below details more about the man accused of killing a Lt. Aaron Allan.
It was a simple video of a GIANT rattlesnake captured on a trail at Brown County State Park that topped the list of views in 2017. The huge snake was captured by RTV6 viewer Clayton Fleener and shows it slithering across trail #9. The snake pictured in the video is believed to be a timber rattlesnake which is an endangered species and is on the no-kill list.
Although Indiana was not in the path of totality for the 2017 Solar Eclipse, Hoosiers were enthralled by the sight this past August. Viewing parties took place across the state, and busloads of people even traveled to Kentucky where they could view the total solar eclipse.
A Facebook post of a homeless man, possibly suffering from starvation, helped a family reunite with their loved one after seven years last September.
The image was posted by a man saying he felt bad because the homeless man was so thin his “stomach was hitting his back.” The man said he gave the guy some money and hoped that he could get help. That homeless man was identified as Johnny Rhodes, and after the image went viral his brother, Danny stepped in to help. Johnny has since gained weight and is living with his sister where his family is making sure he now gets the help he needs.
Also in September, a tragic death at an Amazon warehouse in Plainfield caught the internet’s attention. A 59-year-old Indianapolis man was killed after being crushed in a forklift accident. His death was ruled accidental by the coroner.
A fight between two drivers at the Anderson Speedway was captured on video in October and caused quite a stir online. During the race, the two drivers confronted each other after one of them was bumped off the track. That driver then drove over the top of the second driver’s car in an apparent road-rage type scene before the two briefly duked it out on the track. Both drivers were arrested after police used a Taser to subdue them. The instigating driver was banned from the track for life while the second driver was banned for the remainder of the season.
An Indianapolis teen was sneaking back into his home on an early October morning when he was shot and killed by a family member who thought he was an intruder. The family of 15-year-old Eugene Dobbins told police that they thought everyone was asleep when they heard the teen entering the home and mistook him for an intruder. It wasn’t until after the shots were fired the family realized what had happened.
The director of a “no kill” shelter in Richmond was fired in November after 12 healthy dogs were euthanized at the facility. The issue came to light after workers at Help the Animals Inc. broke their silence and shared the information online. A petition started after the community learned what had happened and it wasn’t long before the director came under fire for what had happened. The shelter is now working with supporters and members of the community to fix the damage that’s been done.
A prominent Indianapolis doctor was murdered in his home in mid-November during what police believe was an attempted robbery. Rogers was serving as the director emeritus of the IU School of Medicine’s emergency medicine program at the time of his death. An 18-year-old and a juvenile were both arrested more than two weeks after his death.
Two sisters killed in a suspected murder-suicide the day after Thanksgiving were Roncalli alumnae. Police say Mallory Jackson’s husband, Darrell, was found dead later that same day from a suspected suicide in Arkansas. The girls’ father, Doug Opel, was also former Assistant Football Coach and Athletic Director at Roncalli High School.
Roncalli Principal Chuck Weisenbach released the following statement about the girls’ murders.
"We are deeply saddened to have lost two members of our Roncalli family," said Weisenbach. "Mallory Opel, Class of 2009 and Meredith Opel, Class of 2015. The Opel Family spans generations of Roncalli alumni and have been longtime members of our community on many levels. Our hearts are heavy and our prayers are with the family."
In December, a Brown County Inn made the news after a customer claimed they were charged $350 for leaving a bad review online. A Call 6 report revealed that the Abbey Inn had a policy in place between September 2015 and November 2016 that allowed them to charge customers $350 for negative reviews. The state and Attorney General have both responded to the allegations. The hotel’s new management claims they will be closing and reopening under a new name as they try to move beyond what has happened in the past.
Also in December, a Plainfield police captain came under hot water after she was recorded making a comment about “white male privilege” during a transgender awareness training program the month before. A video recording of the training session provided by Plainfield captured the exchange. The captain was placed on administrative leave in December while but was later reinstated by the Plainfield Board of Police Commissioners following an investigation into her actions.
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