These are the 9 most read news stories of the year on WCPO.com

CINCINNATI -- It’s almost time to ring in 2018.

If you’ve forgotten the moments that defined 2017 in our region, we’re here to help recap.

In our top nine most-viewed stories of 2017, the Tri-State watched as parts of Downtown Loveland went up in smoke, the nation said “d'aww” when a dog stepped in to raise the zoo’s tiger cubs and people across the globe held their breath as emergency crews carried Hamilton County native Otto Warmbier off a plane from North Korea. These aren't the most important stories of the year, just the most popular ones.

Here's a countdown of the nine most read WCPO.com stories of 2017 -- based on the number of times they were clicked:

9. Body found in freezer at Molly Malone's Bar

In July, would-be bar patrons were shocked to see a notice on the door of a Pleasant Ridge pub that an employee had died.

A co-worker found the body of Brandon Chandler inside the cooler at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Restaurant on Montgomery Road.

The employee found the 20-year-old's body at about 9:43 a.m. on July 31. Chandler had been working the night before, and it didn’t appear he had been locked or trapped inside the cooler, according to Sgt. Michael Bell.

Police said no foul play was involved in Chandler's death, but authorities have not yet released his cause of death.

Go here to read the full story.

8. Police: Man stabbed in the throat at Cincinnati Zoo

A fight ended in a man stabbed in the throat near one of the most popular areas of the Cincinnati Zoo this summer.

Officers arrested Mark Lanham and Malik Abdul-Rauf and charged them in the stabbing on July 29 near the zoo’s gift shop and train station, police said.

Malik Abdul-Rauf, left, and Mark Lanham, right were arrested in connection with the stabbing.

The men had an argument with the stabbing victim, according to court documents. Both Lanham and Abdul-Rauf left the zoo after the stabbing, while the victim remained behind.

Sgt. Eric Franz of the Cincinnati Police Department said the victim had serious, non life-threatening injuries. Crews took him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment.

No one else was injured, and the zoo was not evacuated.

Go here to read the full story.

7. Local business owner accused of importing fentanyl

Authorities arrested the founder of a Norwood translation company in June on federal charges of smuggling fentanyl into the Tri-State.

An undercover agent bought 100 milligrams of fentanyl from “a website on the dark web,” according to an affidavit. Officials later arrested Grace Bosworth, founder of Global 2 Local Language Solutions, and James Halpin.

Grace Bosworth and James Halpin were accused of smuggling fentanyl into the Tri-State.

The May 30 purchase led U.S. Postal inspectors to the Cincinnati address of Bosworth and Halpin, who told investigators that both were daily users of fentanyl, the affidavit said.

Halpin admitted to mailing 30 to 35 parcels that contained 50 to 100mg of fentanyl each. Halpin said Bosworth packaged the parcels, and he mailed them to customers.

Bosworth was found dead on Dec. 5 on the second floor of her two-family home at 5011 Forest Ave., according to a Norwood Police incident report.

Go here to read the full story.

6. Historic downtown Loveland damaged in massive fire

When portions of beloved downtown Loveland caught fire in May, the community vowed it would rebuild.

A massive fire gutted the upper floors of three buildings on West Loveland Avenue. Although no one was injured, the fire proved fatal for the historic architecture.

The fire started above Tano’s Bistro and Catering, City Manager David Kennedy said. A dress boutique, realtor's office and the former Julian's space were also damaged.

Sky 9 captured images of the charred and crumbled buildings:

Gaetano Williams, owner of Tano Bistro and Catering, said in November he is rebuilding the second story of his restaurant and a rooftop bar is also in the works.

Go here to read the full story.

5. Police: Woman lied about pregnancy, losing unborn baby in mass shooting 

A gender reveal party at a Colerain Township home ended in chaos when two gunman walked through the front door and fired 14 rounds, killing one woman and injuring several others -- including three children.

The party was supposedly in honor of Cheyanne Willis and her unborn child. She was shot in the leg and said she lost the baby.

Investigators said they spent weeks chasing leads, only to find out Willis was never pregnant. Police Chief Mark Denney said it's just one example of how much time investigators have "wasted following leads known to be lies."

 

The July 8 shooting was one of the area’s worst mass shootings. Autum Garrett, 22, of Huntington, Indiana, was killed. The victims included five other adults and three children, ages 2, 6 and 8. The gunfire also injured a dog.

Several people at the party had connections to three different drug circles, police spokesman Jim Love said.

The investigation is lengthy, Love said, as investigators are still sifting through tens of thousands of text messages, emails and other evidence. Police said they expected multiple arrests, some for the shooting and others coming from related investigations. No arrests have been made at this time.

The community came together in December to honor the 27 police officers and firefighters who responded to the emergency.

Go here to read the full story.

4. Cremations turn into uncontrolled fire at funeral home

A business-as-usual cremation of an “overly obese” body started a fire at a Cincinnati funeral home.

Don Catchen, owner of Hillside Chapel Crematory, said the April 26 blaze started when one of the cremation containers caught fire.

"My operator was in the process of cremating remains and (the body) was overly obese and apparently it got a little hotter than the unit is supposed to get," Catchen said.

When fat in the body burned at a higher temperature than usual, the too-hot flames spread to nearby containers and parts of the surrounding room, Cincinnati Fire Chief Michael Washington said.

No one was injured in the fire, and no other bodies or parts of the building were damaged, as crematoriums are highly fireproof.

Go here to read the full story.

3. Australian shepherd becomes nanny for zoo’s tiger cubs

A dog quickly became dad of the year when he helped raise three rare tiger cubs after their mother rejected them. 

Blakely, a 6-year-old male Australian shepherd, stepped in to provide snuggling, comfort and direction to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Malayan tiger cubs in March.

 

Dawn Strasser, head of the zoo's nursery staff, said Blakely serves as “the adult in the room.” He helps check Chira, Batari and Izzy when they’re being too rough or aggressive.

The trio is not the first to be raised by Blakely. He’s also nurtured cheetahs, an ocelot, a takin, a warthog, wallabies, skunks and bat-eared foxes.

In 2016, the city proclaimed Oct. 19 “Blakely Day.”

Go here to read the full story.

2. Eclipse mesmerizes millions

Millions of Americans from Oregon to South Carolina looked to the sky as the moon blocked the sun on August 21.

The 90-minute phenomenon induced weeks of planning, from procuring eclipse glasses to plotting a watching spot.

Some drivers passed through Cincinnati en route to Hopkinsville, the the small western Kentucky town that had the best view of the eclipse because of its position on the globe.

In Pendleton County, Kentucky, the superintendent canceled school because many of the eclipse glasses they bought for students turned out to be fake.

Superintendent Dr. Anthony Strong said he didn’t want to risk kids looking at the sun while on the school bus home.

Problems with fake glasses sprung up across the country. A South Carolina couple sued Amazon, claiming they had suffered vision impairment, including blurriness and distorted vision, because they didn’t know they had purchased fake glasses.

A week before the eclipse, Amazon sent a notice to customers advising not to use glasses that did not meet ISO 12312-2 standards. The company offered a full refund to anyone who had purchased unsafe glasses.

Go here for all of our eclipse coverage.

1. Otto Warmbier rescued from North Korea, dies at hospital

The world watched as officials carried Otto Warmbier off a plane at Lunken Airport after he had been held prisoner in North Korea for nearly 18 months. 

The 22-year-old died on June 19, just six days after he was released. He had been unable to speak, see or react to verbal commands since his return to Cincinnati, according to a hospital statement.

When he gave a statement upon Otto’s return, Fred Warmbier (right) wore the same jacket as Otto (left) wore during his North Korean trial.

"He looked very uncomfortable -- almost anguished," family members said. "Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed -- he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that."

Earlier, Cincinnati doctors treating Warmbier had said he suffered "severe neurological injury" and that he was in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness."

North Korean officials had claimed Warmbier contracted botulism and never woke up after taking a sleeping pill. Doctors in Cincinnati said he showed no signs of botulism when he arrived here, though they couldn't say exactly what caused the cardiac or respiratory arrest that led to his unresponsive condition.

Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea after officials there said he took a propaganda banner from a hotel in early 2016. His tour group was leaving when authorities detained Warmbier. Other members of the tour group have raised doubts about the theft story given by officials.

Go here to read the full story.

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