We’ve taken a look at overall top stories for 2022.
They involved an arrest in the Delphi murders, the March fire at a Walmart distribution center on the west side of Indianapolis and Indiana’s automatic taxpayer refund.
In a similar vein, we took at look back at the top stories for each month of the year in 2022. Here’s what we found out.
By the end of January, it was apparent that a winter storm was set to sock central Indiana to begin the next month. The top story involved the weather forecast in which a “significant winter storm” was set to hit the state by the middle of the week.
Meteorologists predicted a mix of snow, ice, sleet and rain, with the timing of the storm making it difficult to pin down precipitation totals. By the time the winter storm had ended, some areas reported more than a foot of snow, with some of the highest totals in Veedersburg, Lafayette, Kokomo and Logansport.
As the aforementioned winter storm swept through the state, most counties issued some level of travel advisory to alert drivers to poor conditions and the potential for dangerous travel.
FOX59 viewers were especially interested in the changing road conditions brought on by February’s winter storm, making our post about county travel statuses the top story for the entire month. At one point, more than three dozen counties had gone into the red, meaning only emergency workers were supposed to be on the roads.
Indiana has three different travel statuses: advisory (yellow), watch (orange) and warning (red). Travel is allowed under a yellow advisory, although conditions may be hazardous. An orange warning recommends only necessary travel, such as work or an emergency situation. A red warning typically means only emergency workers should be on the roads.
March’s top story involved the large fire at the Walmart distribution center on the west side of Indianapolis. Images of thick, black smoke billowing into the air were unforgettable as dozens of firefighters from multiple departments were called to the 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse on AllPoints Parkway between Avon and the Indianapolis International Airport.
The fire started on the third floor just before 12 p.m. on March 16. Firefighters training nearby were able to respond within minutes. They arrived to find a raging fire and smoke so thick that they had zero visibility. Anyone who lived nearby was asked to shelter in place; residents were asked to avoid touching any debris from the fire. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management monitored the air quality.
It took days for crews to extinguish the fire. The warehouse ended up being unusable after the fire, leading Walmart to close the location. The company later filed a tort claim against 30 departments that responded to the scene, accusing initial responders of making the fire worse.
April’s top story involved the search for a missing Indiana couple.
Ronnie and Beverly Baker set off from a California campground to meet some friends in Tucson, Arizona. They never arrived at their destination and essentially vanished without a trace. The only indication of their location was a single ping from an isolated stretch of road, leaving family members with no indication of what happened to them.
Calls made to the couple after March 28 went straight to voicemail. An image of their RV was captured on a desert highway in Luning, Nevada, on March 27.
Local police searched campgrounds and rest stops in the area. Family members examined photographs of the RV and scrutinized credit card purchases for any clues to the couple’s whereabouts, even setting up an email address specifically for tips in the case.
On April 5, the Esmeralda Sheriff’s Office found the couple’s RV in the remote mountain area near Silver Peak, Nevada. The RV appeared to be stuck and their Kia Soul was gone. Search and rescue teams followed tire tracks and found the Kia about two miles away with Ronnie and Beverly inside.
Ronnie had died, police said, but Beverly was still alive. She told police she stayed mostly in the car and used melted snow for water. She was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
A national story landed in Indiana when two Alabama fugitives were discovered in Evansville.
Casey White and Vicky White (no relation) had been on the run since April 29. Vicky White, a jailer, told colleagues she was taking Casey White, an inmate awaiting trial in a capital murder case, for a mental evaluation. Instead, the two went on the run, kicking off a nationwide manhunt.
The pair had ditched a vehicle in Tennessee and made their way to Evansville, where they stayed for several days until they were spotted on Highway 41 in Vanderburgh County, leading to a pursuit that ended in a crash near the Evansville Airport.
Casey White surrendered after the crash. Vicky White, however, shot herself at some point during the chase and later died from her wounds. Police later said they believed Casey White planned to end things with a shootout if his car hadn’t crashed.
The couple had paid in advance for a 14-day stay at an Evansville motel and had been in the city for about a week. Investigators recovered several items from the two, including guns, $29,000 in cash and multiple wigs. Police believe the pair chose Evansville because they needed a quiet place to get their bearings and figure out their next move.
Casey White was extradited back to Alabama. He was not charged locally.
June’s top story didn’t involve a national manhunt or the dramatic search for a missing couple.
Instead, the story centered around a man who spent hours at a northern Indiana truck stop and refused to leave the shower. Police were called to the Love’s truck stop at 2952 Gary Drive at 2:12 a.m. on June 28 after the man overstayed his welcome in the shower area.
Employees said the man, identified 36-year-old Skakir Jama Farah of Sioux City, Iowa, wouldn’t leave his shower stall after his paid time had run out. He stayed there for more than four hours and refused to leave or open the door.
Employees had to unlock the door to grant police entry because Farah refused to leave despite officers’ requests. He was arrested on a criminal trespass charge.
July’s top story was also the top overall story on the website for the entire year. It involved a TikTok viral trend called the “Kia challenge” in which people attempted to start a car using a USB cable.
An Indiana woman fell victim to the challenge on July 16, when someone tried it on her Kia Soul. Whoever did it shattered her window to gain access to the vehicle. She filed a report with the Lapel Police Department after it happened and said the social media trend made her “feel disgusted.”
Most Hoosiers received a pair of automatic taxpayer refunds in 2022. The first was mandated by state law after Indiana had a budget surplus. The second refund was the result of a summer special legislative session. The top story for August involved the second round of payments approved as part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s inflation relief strategy.
The Indiana Department of Revenue announced that the $200 payments ($400 for married couples) would start hitting bank accounts via direct deposit in late August. Hoosiers who were eligible for the initial $125 refund were also eligible for the second payment. However, some Hoosiers who weren’t eligible for the first payment are set to get a $200 tax credit when filing their 2022 tax returns.
September’s top story also involved the automatic taxpayer refund as the state worked to distribute a second round of payments and mail checks to Hoosiers who didn’t receive the initial payment via direct deposit.
The first round of payments went out via direct deposit in May ($125 for individuals, $250 for married couples) and a second payment ($200 for individuals, $400 for married couples) began hitting direct deposit in late August.
Some Hoosiers, however, ended up waiting months for their payments to arrive via check. The state originally planned to send checks for the $125 payments at the end of July. A paper shortage delayed those plans.
Hoosiers who didn’t get direct deposits received both amounts ($325 for individuals or $650 for married couples) via check. The Auditor of State and Indiana Department of Revenue handled the payments.
October’s top story involved a break in the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi, Indiana. Despite the release of key evidence in the case, including a grainy picture of the suspect, a voice recording and a pair of sketches, no one had been arrested in connection with the teens’ deaths. The investigation seemed stalled after more than five years.
That all changed in late October, when FOX59 learned police had arrested 50-year-old Richard Allen on two counts of murder. He was booked into the Carroll County Jail and later moved to a state facility. Indiana State Police announced his arrest on Oct. 31, although court documents related to the case were initially sealed.
A judge later unsealed a redacted version of the probable cause affidavit; investigators believe an unspent round found next to the girls’ bodies had been cycled through a gun owned by Allen, who had also told investigators he’d been on the Monon High Bridge on the day of the murders. The case is currently under a gag order pending a January hearing.
November: ‘I throw myself at the mercy of the court’: Man arrested in Delphi murders asks for public defender (November 9)
During his initial hearing, Delphi murder suspect Richard Allen told the court he planned to hire private counsel. He reconsidered, however, and asked for a public defender.
In a handwritten letter, Allen begged for the “mercy of the court” and said he had “no clue” how expensive it would be to seek out his own attorney. He wrote that his arrest had a significant impact on his and his wife’s finances.
“Again, I throw myself at the mercy of the court. Please provide me whatever assistance you may,” Allen wrote.
Allen wrote the letter at the White County Jail, one of multiple facilities where he’s been held since his arrest.
The top story in January involved Indiana weather. The top story of the final month of the year followed suit.
A winter storm slammed central Indiana in late December, bringing snow along with dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills. Gusting winds and falling snow reduced visibility on the roads, prompting many counties to change their travel status in response to the conditions outside.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security tracks county travel statuses. During adverse weather conditions, counties can elect to use one of three different statuses: advisory (yellow), watch (orange) and warning (red).