2021 was filled with happy stories, sad ones, ones that had us questioning, "What the heck is going on?" – There was no shortage of news, that's for sure. We've looked at the numbers and tracked down the top local stories from the Phoenix area and beyond that captured your attention the most.
Top 10 local stories:
1. Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers: The latest information on coronavirus cases in the state, from the Arizona Department of Health and county health departments.
2. Ducey: Arizona to stop paying extra $300 unemployment benefit; state offering $2,000 return-to-work bonus: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the state will stop paying the $300 federal supplement to unemployed workers and will offer a $2,000 return-to-work bonus in an effort to get Arizonans back to work.
3. Man jumps out of taxiing Southwest Airlines plane at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport: airline: Phoenix Police identified the man as Daniel Ramirez. He was booked into jail on suspicion of two counts of felony trespassing.
4. Couple flies to Milwaukee after wife buys Game 3 tickets thinking it was in Phoenix: A wife surprised her husband with tickets to Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, but she didn't realize the game was in Wisconsin. The couple didn't mind heading somewhere cooler, anyway.
5. Mother, her 5 children killed when 18-wheeler rear-ends vehicle on I-10: "A tractor-trailer was eastbound in the #2 lane when for an unknown reason, it rear-ended a Nissan Altima with five people onboard. The force of the impact split the Nissan passenger vehicle in half," the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.
6. 'Valentine Sally': Woman found dead nearly 40 years ago in Northern Arizona identified: The Coconino County Sheriff's Office said on Feb. 22 the woman has been identified as Carolyn Eaton of St. Louis, Missouri. Eaton's body was found on February 14, 1982 along Interstate 40 near Williams.
7. Arizona woman speaks out after giving birth to 14-pound baby: People often use the term "big baby" for a variety of reasons, but one Arizona couple can legitimately use the term to describe their newborn.
8. 2 pythons rescued from Peoria home weeks after woman was found dead inside along with hundreds of rats: A rat infestation problem has troubled an Arizona neighborhood after the body of a woman was found inside the home. Police said there was a hoarder-type situation inside, and body camera video from a Peoria Police officer showed large piles of random items inside the home that made it difficult to walk through.
9. Talent agency holding casting call for Scottsdale reality show: Lights, cameras, action! A talent agency is looking to create a reality show simply called "Scottsdale." The show will feature the lives of Valley residents between the ages of 21 and 40.
10. Man accused of killing kidnapping victim, dumping body in Arizona desert: The victim, identified as 19-year-old Oscar Ortega, was reported by his family to have possibly been kidnapped. Police learned Ortega left his girlfriend's house at around 2 a.m., was kidnapped at gunpoint, and forced into a vehicle by 18-year-old Jerssen Perez. Police say Perez was the ex-boyfriend of Ortega's girlfriend.
Top 10 national stories:
1. Gabby Petito's dad linked to incident at Laundrie home evening before she was reported missing: Gabby Petito’s father was involved in a "public service" incident at her fiancé Brian Laundrie’s home on Sept. 10, nine days after he returned to Florida without her from a cross-country road trip and a day before she was reported missing by her mother.
2. DoorDash driver defecates in customer's residential lobby after dropping off order: The building manager of an apartment building was contacted by a resident in the building saying that there was feces all over the lobby of the 19-unit building. When the building manager checked the surveillance video, she was shocked to see a DoorDash delivery driver using a trash can in her building's lobby to take a dump.
3. Nationwide TikTok challenge causes several school districts to take heightened precautions: It’s unclear where the TikTok school threat emerged, but the challenge suggested numerous school shootings will take place on Dec. 17. Authorities in cities across the country have said they’ve received no evidence that the threats are credible, but school officials took heightened safety measures as a precaution.
(Photo by Adrianna Calvo/Pexels)
4. Video: Excited German shepherd jumps into store toy bin: A dog jumped into a giant box of toys and her joy could practically be felt through the screen.
5. Missing woman's haunting songs on Spotify account may provide answers: A series of haunting songs appeared on Gabby Petito’s Spotify on Sept. 1, a day after her mother last received text messages from her phone. She was later found dead.
Gabby Petito Memorial outside the Laundrie family home. (Fox News)
6. Kyle Rittenhouse trial: MSNBC barred from court, producer followed jury bus: The jury at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial deliberated for a third full day without reaching a verdict Thursday, while the judge banned MSNBC from the courthouse after a freelancer for the network was accused of following the jurors in their bus.
7. Review: Girl-power-powered ‘Cinderella’ doesn’t inspire—it irritates: If cinematic adaptations of classic stories reflect the time in which they’re made, filmmaker Kay Cannon’s musical "Cinderella" embodies a bleak present. "Cinderella" is motivated only by a vague sense of "girl power," and that would be tolerable if the end result weren’t so broad and bland.
Camila Cabello stars in CINDERELLAPhoto: Kerry Brown© 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC
8. Father files $1M lawsuit after Michigan teacher cuts girl’s hair without permission: The father of a 7-year-old Michigan girl whose hair was cut by a teacher without her parents’ permission has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the school district, a librarian and a teacher’s assistant.
9. Some people may have to return their $1,400 stimulus check: While a lot of people who received a third stimulus check could have really used it, unfortunately, some people had to return the $1,400. Those included those who aren't residents of the U.S. and anyone who died before January 1, 2021.
10. Gabby Petito case: Body found at Wyoming search site matches description of missing Florida woman: Gabby Petito, the missing Florida woman whose case captivated the nation, was found dead near Grand Teton National Park. Moments after the FBI's announcement, police said they were "saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased."