BOISE, Idaho — As 2019 comes to an end, we're taking a look back at the most-viewed local stories on KTVB.COM.
The stories included on the list range from tragic to heartwarming, and include ongoing mysteries like the disappearance of toddler DeOrr Kunz Jr., a variety of crime-related stories, and feel-good stories such as the Boise company that gave its employees $30,000 raises.
Although not included in our local list, several national and regional stories also got a lot of clicks on KTVB.COM this year:
- ‘These pictures were taken 7 months apart’ | Mom shares photos of son to bring awareness to addiction
- 'I want more answers' | Man finds frozen baby in mom's freezer in south St. Louis
- Denver teen wants more people to know about a rare medical condition linked to marijuana use
- Florida man, drunk and naked, allegedly set house on fire in failed cookie baking attempt
- We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes
- 'She was a fighter': Man and daughters find abandoned newborn in the woods
Top local stories on KTVB.COM:
27. Prosecutor: Ex-boyfriend tortured, bludgeoned Boise murder victim
Disturbing details emerged in the first court appearance for a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in a Boise home. According to prosecutors, David Randall tortured, stabbed and beat Darla Fletcher to death in a brutal attack. Fletcher's body was discovered by her son on Monday, Dec. 16. Prosecutors say Fletcher had ended her relationship with Randall about a month before, but had gone over to his home on Cambria Way in northwest Boise to get some possessions she had left behind. Randall is being held without bond on a charge of first-degree murder.
26. 1 dead, 1 injured in downtown Boise e-scooter crash
A teenager died and another person was injured in October when the e-scooter they were riding on collided with a pickup truck. The crash in downtown Boise killed 16-year-old Kyler Davis, of Boise. According to investigators, the pickup was headed north on 15th when it hit the eastbound scooter, which was carrying two passengers. The coroner's office says Davis died from a head injury.
25. Former Boise State football player Dan Paul dies at age 30
Boise State fans were shocked to learn of former football player Dan Paul's passing in July. The university said Paul died at his home at the age of 30, but did not release any details surrounding his death. In the wake of the announcement, several former teammates posted tributes to Paul on social media. Paul played for the Broncos from 2008 to 2012, and was a member of the team that won the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.
24. Woman, children die after being pulled from Boise house fire
A tragic house fire in July resulted in the death of a Boise woman and her two children. The Ada County Coroner's Office identified the victims as 43-year-old Jana K. Cullen, her 12-year-old son Ryker Sanchez and 9-year-old daughter Rylee Sanchez. In the wake of the deadly fire, officials with the Boise Fire Department said the blaze began after a heating element in an electric wax warmer failed and caught shelving in the home on fire.
23. Three dead after police standoff at Meridian home
Three young girls suffered a huge loss in January after a deadly standoff at a Meridian home. 39-year-old Edward Epps Jr. forced his way into a Meridian house, shot and killed his ex-wife Heidi DeLeon and her husband Jose DeLeon before turning the gun on himself, police said. The three girls were in the home and witnessed the attack. One escaped, while the other two were kept hostage by the gunman. In the days and weeks following the shooting, KTVB learned that Heidi DeLeon had filed for a protection order against Epps just a week before the deadly attack.
22. Three people killed in two-vehicle crash on Highway 21
Two people died at the scene and a third later died at the hospital after a head-on crash on Idaho Highway 21 back in August. The crash happened near Hilltop Station when, police say, a driver crossed the center line and struck another vehicle head-on. Both vehicles then caught fire. The victims were identified by Idaho State Police as Peter Tanorikiho, 67; Lelelewa Tanorikiho, 60; and Jerry Neher, 51.
21. Boise hospital warns of knock-off car seats: 'There's no way a child would survive a crash in a seat like this'
In February, car seat technicians from St. Luke's Children's Hospital in Boise warned of counterfeit car seats being sold online. The car seats may look like a name brand but are actually knock-offs. Watch the video below or click on the link above to find out how to recognize bogus car seats that could put your child in danger.
20. Driver admits to heavy drinking before crash that killed three girls in Blaine County
A Fairfield man was arrested and charged with three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter and two counts of aggravated DUI in August after a crash on US Highway 20 in Blaine County that killed three young girls. Authorities said 46-year-old Matthew Park was drunk when he crashed into the back of a car that had stopped at a construction light. Two of the children, 6-year-old Aneena Lurak and 5-year-old Kya Lurak, died at the scene. The youngest girl, 3-year-old Drayka Emyka Rayshell of Mountain Home, was rushed to St. Luke's in Boise, where she also died from her injuries. The father of the girls and his fiance were seriously injured in the wreck.
19. Boise shooting victim dies, 24-year-old suspect charged with murder
A Boise man is awaiting sentencing on a first-degree murder charge connected to the shooting death of another man on August 2. Carlos Sandoval, 24, was arrested after he shot two people inside a Boise mobile home. Antoine Jones, 45, died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, while a woman was injured. Prosecutors said the victim had dated Sandoval's mom who died more than a year ago, and that Sandoval lived in the mobile home with Jones. Sandoval pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in November, and set to be sentenced in January.
18. BBB revokes one of Idaho's largest home builders' accreditation after it fails to address complaints
In July, the Better Business Bureau revoked Corey Barton Homes' status after the company failed to respond to a homeowner's complaints about her home. The homeowner old KTVB her issues with CBH went on for months, and included a number of poor build quality problems and poor response to her complaints. The BBB said the the company's failure to respond violated one of the standards of trust businesses are required to meet as part of the accreditation process so the bureau's board of directors voted to revoke CBH's accreditation status.
17. Teen dies after he was hit by vehicle on Eagle Road while riding scooter
A 17-year-old Mountain View High School student died on Oct. 1 after he was struck by a vehicle while riding a scooter near an intersection with Eagle Road. Police said at the time that Masen Burmester was rushed to the hospital where he died from his injuries.
16. Semi truck hits, runs over cyclist in Boise crosswalk
A cyclist was badly injured in June after he was run over by a semi truck in Boise. According to Boise police, the semi driver was turning right onto an I-84 on-ramp when he hit the cyclist, who was crossing in the crosswalk. The impact knocked the cyclist down, and the truck's tires rolled over him.
15. Well-known tattoo artist found dead at Ann Morrison Park: 'He was a good dude, he was talented'
A 27-year-old man faces charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and grand theft after a well-known tattoo artist was found dead at Ann Morrison Park in October. Prosecutors say Andrew Garcia brutally beat Roque "Rocky" Arellano to death during an altercation between the two men. On Dec. 12, Garcia was deemed mentally incompetent and unfit to stand trial. The ruling came after Garcia underwent a mental health evaluation. He'll remain in custody at the Idaho Department of Correction until the court decides he is fit for trial.
14. 'It just tore my heart': Witnesses react after deadly accident on Payette River
One person died and four others were taken to the hospital on July 4 after a floating accident on the Payette River in Emmett. Police said five people went into the water, and several bystanders jumped in to help them. Unfortunately a woman died at the scene. One of the good Samaritans said the whole ordeal was heart-wrenching. The accident was one of a several on the Payette River over the summer.
13. Four men, including a father and his sons, killed in head-on collision in Meridian
Back in February, four men died in a head-on collision involving two pickup trucks on Cherry Lane in Meridian. Three of those killed in the crash were identified as Nampa father David Humberto Fernandez, 48, and his two sons, Tre Fernandez, 24, and David Aaron Taylor Fernandez, 22. The third son was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. A close family friend of the men told KTVB they were a close-knit family and that the men had been driving home from work when the crash happened.
12. Winter storm expected to bring snow to Idaho, could hamper Thanksgiving travel
One of the first winter storms of the 2019 holiday season came at the worst possible time -- during the busy Thanksgiving travel week. The storm that hit eastern Oregon and southwest Idaho was part of a bigger system that pummeled much of the Pacific Northwest. That massive system, along with another one in in the Great Lakes region prompted numerous flight delays.
11. Albertsons sues Boise bakery, cites illegal competition
A Boise bakery got a huge outpouring of support after grocery giant Albertsons sued the mom-and-pop shop over concerns of illegal competition. The lawsuit argued that Granny C's Bakery was breaking the covenant code for the shopping center shared by the bakery and the grocery store. Albertsons eventually dropped the lawsuit.
10. Idaho State Police report largest pot bust in agency history
In January, Idaho State Police said a trooper discovered more than 6,700 pounds of suspected marijuana inside a semi truck during a routine traffic stop. At the time, troopers believed it was the largest pot bust in agency history. However, the suspected marijuana eventually turned out to be a shipment of hemp that was passing through the state from Oregon. The bust, along with changes to federal hemp rules, eventually prompted Idaho Gov. Brad Little to issue an executive order allowing the transportation of hemp through the state.
9. Boise State hockey player killed in accidental shooting near university
Boise State hockey player Robert "Bobby" Skinner died from an accidental gunshot wound at a home near the university back in August. Police said at the time that the wound was not self-inflicted and that criminal charges against others in the home at the time were possible. In the wake of Skinner's death, the Broncos hockey team paid tribute to their fallen teammate prior to an Idaho Steelheads game.
8. 'It's a game-changer': Employees get $30,000 raise in salary at a Boise business
Employees at Gravity Payments in Boise got a pleasant surprise in September when they learned the credit card processing company would raise their minimum wage to $70,000 a year, with a $10,000 raise in salary effective immediately. CEO Dan Price said employees making $40,000 annually, which is the company's starting pay, would be bumped up to $50,000 right away and over four years, their pay would be increased to $70,000 annually. Price made national headlines in 2015 when he gave his employees at the company's branch in Seattle similar pay raises. Price says he took a million-dollar pay cut to make the raises possible.
7. Court documents: Middleton teen traded child pornography, detailed kidnap plans
An 18-year-old from Middleton is facing nearly a dozen felony charges after investigators say he downloaded thousands of images of child pornography and plotted online about how to kidnap and sexually assault a little girl. Colton Dune Turner was arrested in November after a months-long investigation that began when the Canyon County Sheriff's Office received a pair of cybertips form the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children.
6. Boise residents sue the Air Force over proposed training above Idaho cities
A group of Boise residents are working with environmental nonprofits in an effort to block an Air Force plan to conduct urban air training over Idaho cities, including Boise. The group filed a lawsuit in April contending that the Air Force did not do enough to inform the public, and that the training would endanger the health, safety and quality of life of residents. The military says air support for ground forces has been increasingly required in urban combat areas. In June, the Air Force disputed the lawsuit, saying it did not abuse its discretion when approving up to 160 training events per year.
5. Police: Man wearing vest with wires prompted Boise Towne Square Mall evacuation
A man wearing a vest with visible wires sticking out of it sparked chaos and an evacuation of the Boise Towne Square Mall on Friday, May 10. Boise Police said they received multiple calls about the man wearing "suspicious gear and clothing." At least one person told dispatchers the man "looked like a suicide bomber." A Boise police spokesman told KTVB the man was wearing an all-white suit that appeared to have wires hanging out from underneath it. When officers approached him and asked him to open up his suit jacket, he did so, revealing the camouflage military-style vest with wires sticking out. The wires were later determined to be cell phone chargers, police said. Though the man was ultimately not arrested or charged, police said witnesses reacted correctly by alerting police when they saw something suspicious.
4. Study ranks the worst places to live in Idaho
A study released in May made waves in the Gem State by listing the worst places to live in Idaho. According to RoadSnacks.net, Weiser is the worst place to live in the state, citing a high unemployment rate, longer than normal commute times and lower than normal household incomes. The factors used in the rankings were jobs, housing, affordability, diversity, safety, amenities, education and the commute. In addition to Weiser, several other Treasure Valley cities - Emmett, Caldwell and Nampa - were also included on the list.
3. Boise family with 18 children is battling a devastating diagnosis and leaning on their faith
Ben and Bridget Barrus have always been champions for family, foster care and adoption. The Boise couple has opened their hearts, and their home, to dozens of kids over the years. But now the Barrus family is facing their biggest challenge yet, and it’s heartbreaking. Ben was recently diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, which is advancing rapidly. He is now forced to use a wheelchair, and the family is struggling to make their home accessible. They are also hoping to make a trip to New York City so Ben can see a specialist. The community has stepped in and is helping raise money through a GoFundMe account. As of December 12, the account has raised $32,000 of the $35,000 goal.
2. AMBER Alert issued for 4-year-old girl in Pocatello
An AMBER Alert was issued on August 19 after a 4-year-old girl was reportedly abducted from a home in Pocatello. The alert was canceled several hours later when the girl was found safe. Police did not release information on who took the girl, or where she was located.
1. Investigator: Cadaver dogs alert on human remains at campground where DeOrr Kunz Jr. disappeared
Investigators looking into the high-profile disappearance of DeOrr Kunz Jr. announced in June that cadaver dogs had detected human remains in the area of a Lemhi County campground where the boy went missing four years earlier. DeOrr was two years old at the time of his disappearance on July 10, 2015 from the Timber Creek Campground near Leadore. Extensive searches over the last four years have turned up no sign of the boy. The previous sheriff said he believed the boy was a victim of homicide. After the cadaver dogs alerted to human remains in June, authorities closed the campground for several days to conduct a thorough search in the area that the dogs alerted to. Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner told KTVB in December that he hopes to have an update on those search results by the end of the year.
Watch our special report, including interview's with DeOrr's parents below:
Watch our Little Man Lost series: