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Top 9 most read online stories from 2017

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The story of a Katelyn Davis, a 12-year-old Polk County girl who live streamed video of her own suicide in December 2016, went viral on the internet. The girl posted the video and people apparently shared not only the video itself, but also portions of her online journal.

Police opened an investigation into the incident and are still looking into claims of abuse which were reportedly made in her journal.

The story also brought the subject of teen suicide into the forefront of many people’s minds and opened that discussion.

Polk County Coroner Tony Brazier said the story of Katelyn Davis stuck in his mind and a rise in suicides in Polk County made him want to take action.

Each case is different, he said but depression is usually a common factor.

“There’s got to be a common catalyst in all suicides, and that common catalyst is generally the psychiatric norm of chronic depression,” Brazier said.

Polk officer killed in shooting identified, second suspect arrested — 63,818 views

Polk County Police Det. Kristen Hearne was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 29.

The veteran detective was loved by her community and mourners lined the road as her remains were brought to rest.

“Words can’t express the sorrow and hurt we feel right now as an agency,” Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd said “Our heart goes out to the family. Kristen was the type of officer who lit up any room she was in.”

Hearne is survived by a husband, Matt, her parents and her son Isaac.

Tallapoosa Circuit District Attorney Jack Browning said he already plans to seek the death penalty against alleged shooter Seth Brandon Spangler and Samantha Michelle Roof.

Spangler, 31, and Roof, 22, both face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, theft by receiving stolen property and obstruction of law enforcement officers. Spangler was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to provide a trust fund for her young son Isaac.

Michael Yates caught in Bartow County after shooting — 58,871 views

A 22-year-old Floyd County man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December to the Jan. 13 shooting death of Scotty Dale Graham.

After the shooting, Michael Yates fled in the stolen truck he came in but abandoned it when he struck another vehicle down the road. He was arrested the next evening in Adairsville following a tip that led police to issue a lookout in Gordon and Bartow counties.

In a sentencing hearing, Yate’s lawyers said he shot Graham twice in the chest at around 6:40 a.m. after Graham had struck him in the head and took him to the ground.

He was sentenced to 20 years, to serve 10 in prison, on a voluntary manslaughter charge. He also pleaded guilty and was sentenced on three other charges: five years each for theft by receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and 12 months for reckless conduct. The sentences will run at the same time as his imprisonment on the manslaughter charge.

Woman’s body found at Polk Memory Gardens believed to be a homicide — 42,032 views

Police remain on the case in the murder of Tammy Wolfe found in Polk Memory Gardens back in April.

Wolfe’s murder remains an open case according to Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd. He said detectives are looking at every piece of evidence they can and are following down leads daily in an attempt to make an arrest.

At one point, police arrested a person of interest in the case, but released him after they learned his arrest was made in error.

That arrest came more than a month after Wolfe’s death, sometime around April 5, when she was found dead in a car by Polk Memory Gardens staff. She had been shot and stabbed several times.

Staff at the cemetery told police they first noticed the vehicle on the day the body was found around 9 a.m., but didn’t become suspicious about the car in which Wolfe was found dead until later in the day.

Dodd said those with information about Wolfe’s murder should come forward to the Polk County Police Department by calling 770-748-7331 and ask to speak to detectives.

Chickamauga church locks doors after ousting members who questioned minister’s financial ‘vision from God’ — 38,550 views

A financial dispute at Fellowship Baptist Church in Chickamauga is the lone non-crime story which made it into the most read story list this year. The story concerned a small church that split over a pastor’s plans to use a $42,000 bequest from a deceased member.

Then preacher Tim Owens told church members God had come to him in a “vision” on how he should spend the bequest and that the “Lord was leading him” on how to handle it.

Some church members disagreed with Owens and around 15 were voted out of the congregation. Owens’ announcement had alarmed some of the congregation — many of whom had attended Fellowship since childhood — and caused them to question their minister’s recent financial transactions.

GBI arrests former Rome police officer in marijuana trafficking sting — 35,014 views

Three men, including a former Rome police officer, were indicted on drug charges in June.

Former police officer Earnie Edward Cox, as well as Tyson Brown and Maverick Brown, were arrested in March on charges pertaining to a six-month long marijuana trafficking investigation which resulted in their arrests.

Cox is charged with felony trafficking marijuana, violation of oath of office, tampering with evidence and bribery.

Arrest warrants stated Cox assisted Tyson Brown in a marijuana trafficking organization by providing “law enforcement sensitive information.”

Tyson Brown, 35, of 117 Jim Lee Drive, and Maverick Brown, 57, of 102 King Bee Circle, were both arrested on March 8 and charged with marijuana trafficking. During the raid police confiscated two firearms, 14 pounds of marijuana and $127,868.

Six months prior to the raid, Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney contacted the GBI concerning allegations of corruption concerning Cox. Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett said Cox was terminated.

The Rome Police Department and the Floyd County District Attorney’s Office assisted the GBI in this investigation.

Gordon County Sheriff’s Office operation ‘Spring Clean’ results in 48 charged — 34,421 views

A long-term counter-drug investigation which began in June 2016 culminated in 48 arrests in March throughout Gordon County.

According to Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston:

The investigation — dubbed as Operation Spring Clean — concentrated on the distribution of methamphetamine and other Schedule II and Schedule I controlled substances. The case involved hundreds of man-hours of covert and electronic surveillance, and dozens of undercover drug purchases.

Over the course of the investigation, deputies seized over approximately five pounds of methamphetamine valued at over $112,000, as well as a number of illegally held firearms.

“I want to thank all of my staff members for their very hard work on this case, as well as the citizens who provided the information to us that made these arrests possible,” Ralston said.

Murder charges filed for Cedartown man after Lindale man dies after assault — 30,212 views

A Cedartown man was charged with murder charge after the man police say he attacked on Dec. 28 died from his wounds.

A dispute over money led to the fatal confrontation between Corey Demarcus Gardhigh and Paul Anthony Grady at Grady’s home at 15 S. Central Ave. in Lindale, police said. Gardhigh worked for Grady, who was a painting contractor.

Gardhigh was arrested and charged with felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor simple battery and several counts of third-degree cruelty to children.

Grady later died at Floyd Medical Center as a result of head injuries. Police then charged Gardhigh with felony murder.

Calhoun police — Domestic incident results in murder-suicide — 28,403 views

Two people were killed and another wounded in a murder-suicide that occurred at Calhoun Tobacco and Food Mart on Feb. 10.

Officers arrived to the scene and found a store clerk injured, who told officers she had been shot. An officer witnessed a male run southeast around the store toward Stone Loop, then heard a single gunshot in the area of 116 Stone Loop.

While on scene, officers cleared the store and found the body of Valerie Castillo, 18, of Los Angeles, California.

The store clerk had a gunshot wound to her arm and side. Officers gave first aid to stop the bleeding of the employee and, according to the CPD, she was taken to Hamilton Medical Center by ambulance.

Police then found the body of Victor Andres Pacheco, 20, of Pomona, California. He had been killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Lt. Tony Pyle said Castillo and Pacheco were in a relationship, and they had lived in Calhoun for approximately one month. Pyle said the clerk made a full recovery from her wounds.