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Before we ring in 2013, a look back at 2012

By Colleen O'Brien, Reporter / Weekend Anchor, colleeno@kxly.com
Published On: Dec 31 2012 08:29:14 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 31 2012 08:30:36 PM CST
New Year's 2013

Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

SPOKANE, Wash. -

Before we look ahead to 2013, here's a look back at the year 2012, filled with personal triumphs, tragedies, changes in leadership at City Hall, the police department and a local sports team.

2012 began with a shocking triple-murder. Tracy Ader and her two young sons were found dead in the basement of their north Spokane home.

Days later, after a tense manhunt, their killer -- 20-year-old Dustin Gilman -- was found dead in the woods. Before he shot himself, he called his father and admitted to the murders.

Five months later, in May, Spokane was put on edge again as another killer was on the loose. Sharlotte McGill, 55, was stabbed to death as she walked her dog near Centennial Trail in east Spokane. 

She gave a vague description of her killer before passing away, however, more women would become victims of violent attacks on Centennial Trail before police could arrest 17-year-old Avondre Graham in October and charge him with McGill's murder.

More violence rocked Spokane in June when 44-year-old Charlie Wallace shot two Spokane County sheriff's deputies and led more on a high-speed chase through the county. The chase ended when Wallace crashed his car and then shot himself in the head.

Through all this violence though we were able to find the heart of Spokane when Good Samaritans rushed to the aid of the injured deputies.

The deputies -- Matt Spink and Mike Northway -- both survived the shooting.

Spokane spent much of the year looking for a new police chief. Finally, in August, former Indianapolis public safety director Frank Straub was chosen as the Spokane Police Department's new leader. He was sworn in on Oct. 8 and started the process of reorganizing the department right away. His top priority was healing the department's relationship with the Spokane community.

Also in August, the Washington State Cougar football team entered a new era of coaching under Mike Leach. Their first game against BYU on Sept. 30 proved to be a disappointment for excited fans as they lost 30 to 6.

The Cougs finished the season 3 and 9 but perhaps their biggest win, one that will keep Cougs fans going until next season, was against the Huskies at the Apple Cup. The Cougs took the trophy in a 31-28 overtime victory.

A story that started six years ago and reached a climax in November: the sentencing of former Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson.

Thompson was convicted of violating the rights of Otto Zehm and lying to federal investigators following a March 2006 confrontation at a north Spokane Zip Trip. Zehm lost consciousness following that confrontation and died several days later.

On Nov. 15 Thompson, once considered a contender for Spokane police chief, was sentenced to four years in prison. He's now a federal inmate serving his sentence in Arizona.

In perhaps one of the biggest stories to make Spokane news, the community celebrated its first weddings for gay couples. Washington state voters approved R-74 to allow the unions. Also in November, voters legalized marijuana for recreational use. Though it's legal to smoke pot in the privacy of your own home, there is still no legal way to buy it.

2013 should be an interesting year.

The Top Stories on KXLY.com in 2012

Here's a list of the top stories on our website this last year, based on the number of times each story was read.

1. Motorcyclist killed riding to mother's funeral

2. Burglar messes with wrong Marine

3. Toddler run over by lawnmower

4. Missing Idaho man found alive

5. Cat Davis has one last shot to save her life

6. Man tased in courthouse brouhaha

7. Shock linebacker arrested in Liberty Lake apartment arson

8. Police raids target Spokane massage parlors

9. Newlyweds busted stealing cellphones from students

10. Funeral held for admitted serial killer

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