Our 31 most-read stories of 2017

DENVER — This has been quite the year.

On the national level, we had a new commander in chief take office in January and devastating hurricanes slam the United States in the fall.

The internet fell in love with a pregnant giraffe that gave birth in front of 1.2 million people and a toddler showed that not everybody loves Santa.

We had our fair share of big stories in Colorado too — from the Thornton Walmart shooting to a huge tanker fire that shut down Interstate 25 for several hours on a weekday afternoon.

And, let’s not forget, In-N-Out Burger is finally coming to Colorado. But we have to wait a few more years.

After a memorable 12 months, we have rounded up our top 31 most-read stories of the year.

31. ‘Researcher’ says this Saturday will be the end of the world

In September, a Christian numerologist and self-described “researcher,” David Meade, declared that Sept. 23 was going to be the end of the world.

After the story went viral, Meade later said that he didn’t mean it was going to be the end of the world, but instead the day would “signal an upcoming ‘Tribulation Period’ of seven years.”

THORNTON, CO – NOVEMBER 1: Police investigate the scene of a shooting at a Wal Mart store in the Thorton Town Center shopping plaza on November 1, 2017 in Thornton, Colorado. According to reports, two people were killed and one was injured. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

30. 3 killed in Thornton Walmart shooting

Pamela MarquesCarlos Moreno and Victor Vasquez were killed on Nov. 1 when a gunman “nonchalantly” walked into a Walmart in Thornton and started shooting.

The suspect was arrested the next morning following a brief police chase. He faces six counts of first degree murder and 30 counts of attempted murder. The preliminary hearing is on Feb. 5, 2018.

The suspect is currently being held without bond.

29. Suspect resembling Shaggy from Scooby Doo arrested, accused of robbing man with autism

A Wisconsin man’s resemblance to an old cartoon character led to his arrest in January. He was accused of robbing a man with autism.

When asked for a description of the suspect, police said the victim said several times that the suspect looked like Shaggy from Scooby Doo – and police knew exactly who he was talking about. The suspect was already known to police because of his addiction to a synthetic drug.

28. Denver to Vail in 9 minutes: Colorado route a finalist for Hyperloop One high-speed travel network

A Colorado route was selected in September as a finalist for the Hyperloop One high-speed transportation network. The 360-mile route from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Pueblo by the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop team was one of 10 selected.

If selected, it would service 10 urban centers along the Front Range – including a leg that extends to Vail.

27. City restrictions won’t let Denver mom sell home for market value

The FOX31 Problem Solvers interviewed a 35-year-old single mom who bought her Green Valley Ranch home in 2012 for $150,000.

This year, she had a contract in place to sell her home for $265,000 but days before she was about to close, she found out her home was part of an affordable housing program that Denver created in 2003.

This meant that she could only sell her home for $186,000.

26. Woman’s warning after finding shirt tucked over her windshield goes viral

A 19-year-old in Flint, Michigan went viral after she found a shirt laid over her windshield after leaving work late at night at a local mall in February. The woman said she knew better than to remove the shirt with people around so she drove to a place where she felt safe.

Although it was a good warning, the shirt turned out to be a “random prank,” according to police.

25. Photos: Zany, wild, creative characters at Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con always brings out the craziest costumes every year. Tens of thousands of people show up and have a great time for the annual event – many of them that dress up in crazy costumes.

Over 114,000 people show up to the Colorado Convention Center for three days of fun and workshops – as well as the chance to meet dozens of celebrities, artists, authors and pop culture enthusiasts.

24. 4 new arrests made in murder of 2 Colorado Springs high school students

15-year-old Derek Greer and 16-year-old Natalie Partida were found dead in El Paso County in March. Over the next several weeks, horrific details came out about the teen’s deaths. In total, 10 suspects were arrested in the case.

In August, an affidavit revealed that the teens were killed execution-style over a missing purse.

23. Pineapple on pizza: Great or gross?

The great debate continued in 2017.

The debate over whether it’s acceptable to put pineapple on pizza flared up in March after a controversial tweet from a woman who claimed a restaurant worker refused to fill her order went viral.

The tweet showed a photo of a pizza with $5 taped to the inside of the box, next to a note that read, “Couldn’t bring myself to put pineapple on it. That’s gross. Sorry.”

22. Before and after photos show Hurricane Maria’s destruction on island of Dominica

Images released by DigitalGlobe showed the widespread structural damage and deforestation in Dominica after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island. Dominica was the first victim for the powerful storm and it killed at least 15 people on the island alone.

Hurricane Maria later slammed into Puerto Rico – knocking out power to the majority of the island. Some areas in Puerto Rico are still without power.

21. Distracted beagle steals the show at Westminster agility competition

Mia the beagle might not have won the agility competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but she managed to steal the show in February.

After clearing several obstacles with ease, she got distracted, stopping several times to sniff around, wag her tail and stare at the crowd.

Three mountain lion cubs sit on a deck at a north Boulder home on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Frank Adcock)

20. Boulder man captures ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ shot of mountain lion cubs on deck

In January, Frank Adcock of Boulder captured three mountain lion cubs on his deck. Adcock said the cubs hung out for a while and never saw an adult with them.

19. Colorado residents packing up, moving out at record pace

So much attention is given to all the new residents coming to Colorado, but new data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that about 193,000 Colorado residents moved away last year, 10,000 more than in 2015.

Meanwhile, 223,000 people moved into the state, down about 4,000 from the year, though still well above recent years.

18. Earn $20 reward for each northern pike caught in Green Mountain Reservoir

In May, Colorado wildlife officials started offering $20 for each northern pike caught from Green Mountain Reservoir in Summit County. Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists said the predatory fish not only impact native fish in the reservoir, but they could escape and head downstream, affecting the trout population.

HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 28: Homes are seen inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

17. Texas coastal town sustains ‘catastrophic damage’ in Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey slammed directly into the coastal Texas city Rockport in August. The storm knocked down trees and signs, bent utility poles in half like toothpicks, and blew out the windows of police cars.

The storm made landfall as a Category 4 storm bringing high winds and heavy rains to the area. The storm weakened overtime, but brought heavy rain and catastrophic flooding to parts of Texas for several days.

16. Federal judge: Fort Collins can’t enforce ban on women going topless

A federal judge said in February that the city of Fort Collins can’t enforce a policy that bans women from showing their breasts in public. In his ruling, Federal Judge R. Brooke Jackson disagreed with the argument that topless females might distract drivers and cause traffic issues that disrupt public order.

15. Share your photos of the Great American Eclipse 

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse is crossed the country from coast to coast, and Colorado was just outside the path of totality. Viewers captured the amazing moment and sent us several pictures from when the eclipse passed over them.

Several Coloradans made the drive to Wyoming, which was inside the path of totality, causing a huge back up as drivers returned to Colorado.

14. Huge tanker fire shuts down I-25 near Orchard Road

It was a rare sight: Interstate 25 in the Tech Center completely empty. The fuel tanker fire shut down the interstate in both directions between Orchard Road and Belleview Avenue for several hours around noon on May 31.

The driver of the of the tanker was taken to Swedish Medical Center following the fire.

13. Grammys red carpet: Gowns, pantsuits and other stuff people wore 

Singers, musicians, performers, producers and writers went all out for the 59th Grammy Awards on Feb. 12. The biggest stars in music showed up in everything from sequins and feathers to CDs and campaign ads.

We put together a photo gallery of the craziest outfits and everyone loved it.

12. Officer’s K-9 can’t stop showing love during photo shoot 

An attempt to get an official photo of Indiana conservation officer Levi Knach with his K-9 partner Kenobi got fun when Kenobi’s playful nature and affection for his handler got the best of him.

Indiana State Parks posted the adorable portrait session to Facebook and the photos immediately went viral.

11. April the giraffe has ‘major changes,’ gets closer to giving birth

What would a list about the most popular stories of 2017 be without April the giraffe?

Animal Adventure Park in New York began live-streaming the pregnant giraffe on Feb. 23 and gained worldwide attention as several thousand people watched daily, waiting to see the birth.

She finally gave birth on April 16 with over 1.2 million people watching the live feed.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 17: In-N-Out Burgers are served at the John Varvatos 13th Annual Stuart House benefit presented by Chrysler with Kids’ Tent by Hasbro Studios at John Varvatos Boutique on April 17, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for John Varvatos)

10. At long last, In-N-Out Burger plans to expand to Colorado

In November it was announced that In-N-Out Burger is finally coming to Colorado – but we’ll have to wait a few years. The wildly popular and cult favorite California fast-food chain will first build a distribution facility in Colorado Springs before opening restaurants along the Front Range.

The distribution center could serve up to 50 restaurants within 350 miles of Colorado Springs. There is no timeline for the first restaurant to open.

9. Video shows woman’s 83-foot belly-flop from popular Colorado cliff going wrong

A woman had to be airlifted to a hospital after she belly-flopped in an 83-foot cliff at Paradise Cove Cliff near Florissant in Teller County over the Fourth of July holiday.

The incident was recorded and posted to YouTube. The woman was reported to have a bloody nose and was “highly disoriented” after the dive.

8. 15-year-old boy arrested in death of 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell

A 15-year-old boy from Thornton was arrested in the death of a 10-year-old girl in June. The boy was arrested after Kiaya Campbell went missing while the two went for a walk on June 8. Neighbors found her battered body in a ravine the next day.

7. Aurora Animal Control claims longtime family dog is wolf hybrid, won’t return him to owners

A family called the FOX31 Problem Solvers for help after Aurora Animal Control took their dog and refused give him back, claiming the dog is a wolf-hybrid.

The Abbato family has had Capone for nearly 10 years, but after he got out – animal control picked him up and ran a DNA test on him.

Capone was eventually cleared of being a wolf hybrid and was released back to the family. All charges against the family were dropped.

6. Search and rescue team uses drone to recover missing hikers 

Drones became more and more popular in 2017 – and not just with ordinary citizens. Drones helped the Douglas County Search and Rescue team find two missing hikers and a dog near Devil’s Head in June.

The UAV project was launched in the spring, and after field training with pilots, the tool proved to be beneficial the first few times it was put to use.

5. Toddler signals ‘help’ in sign language during photo with Santa

Every holiday season when Santa comes to town, children and their parents line-up to meet the jolly big man – but this toddler wasn’t having it. Kerry Spencer taught her son the sign for “help” in sign language. And during his photo with Santa – he made the sign.

She posted the photo to Twitter and it went viral with over 31,000 likes to date.

4. Aurora 10-year-old takes her own life after suspected bullying incident caught on camera

The story of 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis from Aurora went viral after she took her own life after a suspected bullying incident was caught on camera and posted to social media.

Davis was a fifth-grader at Sunrise Elementary School in Aurora. She had a passion for basketball and wanted to grow up to be a WNBA star.

At the end of October, she was involved in a fight at school. Her mother claims her daughter was confronting a bully.

The fight was captured on cellphone video and uploaded to the app Musical.ly.

Two weeks after the fight, Ashawnty took her own life. She spent two weeks on life support at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she died on Nov. 29.

Torosaurus (Photo: Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

3. Construction crew finds rare triceratops fossil in Thornton

While working on Thornton’s new public safety facility uncovered a rare dinosaur fossil in August. At first scientists said it appeared to be a triceratops skull and skeleton .

After investigating the fossils, in December, scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science said the 66-million-year-old fossils were instead those of a torosaurus, a close cousin of triceratops.

2. Man told for years he was ‘just fat’ has 130-pound tumor removed

This story about a Mississippi man went viral in February. For 15 years, the tumor had grown on Roger Logan’s abdomen until it reached the size of a small adult.

David Puckett

1. Body believed to be of missing 6-year-old Aurora boy found in icy park pond

6-year-old David Puckett went missing from his home on New Year’s Eve. After an extensive search, crews found his body in a park pond four days later on Jan. 3, not far from where he disappeared. More than 150 personnel from numerous law enforcement agencies and more than 200 volunteers helped search for the boy.