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Year in Review: Local Events that Caught Everyone's Attention

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

2012 is coming to a close, and what a year it's been. North Central Wisconsin had many local events that caught everyone's attention.

Unfortunately, those include four homicides.

Beginning on February 20th, when Donald Johnson, 53, was found shot, beaten and stabbed to death in Wittenberg.

His son, Joshua Johnson was charged in the crime, but was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect for killing his father.

On June 19th, Wausau had its first homicide in years, when Kerby Kneiss, 49, was found beaten to death in his home.

Warren Krohn, 21, and Zachary Froehlich, 19, are charged in his death and awaiting trial.

On September 7th, Maisie McCullough, 18, was found stabbed to death, with her throat slashed in her Marshfield apartment.

The father of her young son, Gabriel Luis Campos is charged in her death.

A month later, on October 13th, another young woman was found dead in Weston. Lee Xiong, 20, was shot to death. Her boyfriend, Richi Vue, 21, was arrested and is charged in her murder. He will stand trial.

The community also had some strange criminal cases, beginning with former Oneida County Medical Examiner Traci England, who is accused of stealing human tissue during autopsies to use to train a cadaver dog.

She's also charged with doing the same thing in Forest County, and more recently has been accused of theft and misconduct in office in two additional autopsies.

A strange story out of Portage County continues to captivate the community.

Charles Jost, his sister Dolores Disher and her husband Ron Disher are accused of theft and fraud. They allegedly cashed more than $175,000 worth of social security checks of their missing 100-year-old mother, Marie Jost.

Jost, along with another son Theodore, haven't been seen since the 1980s.

It was a wild year in Wisconsin when it came to politics.

The biggest political story of the year was the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). Walker survived the recall, receiving 53 percent of the vote, once again beating opponent and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Shortly after, all eyes were on Wisconsin again, when GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Congressman Ryan had made a name for himself in Washington with his spending plan that would overhaul some entitlement programs, like Medicare.

Wisconsin also made history by electing democrat Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, making her the first openly gay U.S. Senator and the first female Senator from Wisconsin. Her win handed Tommy Thompson his first statewide loss.

Political issues were also at the forefront of local news. Wisconsin had its first wolf hunt, and the state couldn't pass a mining bill.

Although the concealed carry law went into effect in November of 2011, the State Justice Department has since issued more than 145,000 permits.

On a happier note, there were movers and shakers from Wisconsin who touched many lives, including Noah LaMaide of Stevens Point.

The then 12-year-old created a website, "Noah's Dream Catcher Network," to help those in need raise money.

At the time he didn't know the website would help his grandmother save her home.

Noah's grandmother, Janice Sparhawk, has helped hundreds of kids in need as a foster parent, but medical expenses caused her to fall behind on her mortgage. Noah managed to raise the necessary $10,000 and his grandma's house was saved.

He's since been given the Hometown Hero Award from the Wisconsin State Assembly and has been featured on the CBS Evening News.

In March, residents of Clintonville reported loud booms and shaking from the ground.

The unexplained noises had everyone scratching their heads. Soon, experts ruled the rumbles as mini earthquakes, a shock to the community.

The booms brought national attention to the normally quiet Clintonville.

In October, a La Crosse news anchor made national headlines after she addressed a viewer on air, who had criticized her weight in an email.

The viewer through Livingston wasn't a suitable example for young girls because of it. Livingston went on air to publicly respond to the viewer.

Livingston was invited on The Ellen Show where she talked about bullying and even won a trip to the Caribbean. She's also been named one of the year's most inspiring women.

On December 12th, 2012, we celebrated Aaron Rodgers Day.

It was all thanks to Jennifer Brilowski, of Stevens Point who came up with the idea. The diehard fan says the star Packers quarterback impresses her on the field and off, especially his work with young cancer patients.


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