It’s hard to believe 2022 is coming to a close. It has been a year of ups and downs around the central Indiana as Hoosiers grappled with tightening budgets thanks to inflation.
Indiana saw its share of big stories during the year, from March’s massive fire at a Walmart distribution center in Plainfield to a deadly July shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall and late-year developments in the infamous Delphi murder case.
We’re taking a look at the top stories on FOX59.com from 2022. The information is based on pageview data driven by internal website visits and search results. The list includes our top overall stories on the website in terms of pageviews. We also have a list of top stories by month.
Top ten stories of 2022
The overall top story of the year brought in nearly a million pageviews during the month of July. 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.”
The murders of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi, Indiana, have gone unsolved since February 2017. 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.
That 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.
On July 17, 20-year-old Jonathan Sapirman arrived at the Greenwood Park Mall, walked to the bathroom and then came out shooting. He shot 30-year-old Victor Gomez outside the bathroom and then took aim at the food court, where he shot Pedro and Rosa Pinedo as they were eating dinner. All three victims died from gunshot wounds.
The gunman also wounded a 22-year-old woman; a 12-year-old girl was hit by a bullet fragment that ricocheted off the wall as she ran toward an exit.
The shooting spree didn’t last long, however. Within 15 seconds of the shooting, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken shot Sapirman multiple times from a distance, killing him. Dicken fully cooperated with the investigation and told police he’d been at the mall shopping with his girlfriend when they stopped at a cookie counter and heard gunfire.
After spending months investigating the shooting, Greenwood police and the FBI said there was “no clear motive” behind the gunman’s actions.
Most Hoosiers looked forward to receiving money from the state in the form of an automatic taxpayer refund. There were actually two of these: one 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 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. However, a paper shortage forced the state to delay those checks. It worked out in the end, however, as lawmakers approved a second taxpayer refund during a summer special session.
As a result, 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.
It’s no surprise that another story about the automatic taxpayer refund appeared in the top ten. This Aug. 11 story involved the second round of payments approved during the special session 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.
In March, a large fire sent plumes of smoke into the air on the west side of Indianapolis. Dozens of firefighters from multiple departments were called to the 1.2 million-square-foot Walmart distribution center on AllPoints Parkway between Avon and the Indianapolis International Airport.
The fire started on the third floor just before 12 p.m. 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.
The Delphi case has captivated both Hoosiers and true crime obsessives for years. Abby Williams and Libby German went for a walk on Feb. 13, 2017, and were found dead a day later. More than five years passed with few answers despite the release of an image of the suspect and a pair of sketches.
In March, there were indications of movement in the cold case, with the Murder Sheet podcast obtaining transcripts from an interview with Kegan Kline, a Peru resident who police said used a fake social media profile (“anthony_shots”) to solicit pictures from underage girls. He was arrested on multiple counts in August 2020, including child solicitation, child exploitation and possession of child porn.
The transcript of an interview between Kline and a state trooper revealed that Kline had used the “anthony_shots” profile to talk to Libby German. The trooper later said “anthony_shots” had planned to meet Libby at the High Bridge on the day of the murders, something Kline denied. In a separate interview, Kline told an HLN producer that his father also had access to the account.
Kline has never been charged in connection with the Delphi murders or named as a suspect, but his case and the “anthony_shots” social media profile have become inextricably linked to the killings.
His case in Miami County is proceeding, with a trial scheduled for May 2023. Prosecutors have dropped five charges against Kline and amended more than a dozen charges in his case.
At 12:44 a.m. on Oct. 5, police received a 911 call from McCutcheon Hall at Purdue University. The caller, later identified as 22-year-old Ji Min Sha, told police he’d killed his roommate, 20-year-old Varun Manish Chheda.
Chheda died from “multiple sharp force traumatic injuries,” according to the Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office. Investigators described the attack as “unprovoked” and “senseless.”
Sha is charged with murder. His attorneys announced plans in November to seek an insanity plea for their client. In December, a judge approved an additional mental health evaluation for Sha.
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 issue some type of travel advisory at the height of the storm.
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.
On July 6, Kyle Moorman went fishing with his three children at a lake located at Bluff Road and Troy Avenue on the southwest side of Indianapolis. His final phone ping was at 12:48 a.m. on July 7. No one heard from him or any of the children after that, and all four were reported missing.
Days later, on July 12, family members found a body in a lake at the same location. While investigators didn’t initially identify the man, they later confirmed it was Moorman. The bodies of his three children–Kyle II, Kyannah and Kyran–were also found in the pond.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office later ruled their deaths accidental.