This past year was filled with news stories that horrified me, fascinated me, caused some serious eye-rolling, or made me smile. Here are the top 7 stories of 2014 that captivated me and touched my heart:
1. The McStay Family
By far, the most touching story for me was that of the McStay family. I first discovered their story while watching a crime news show several years ago that featured their mysterious disappearance. I have been fascinated by their story ever since.
On February 4, 2010, the entire Mcstay family, Joseph, Summer, Gianni, and Joseph Jr., went missing. With no signs of forced entry at their home, and with the discovery of a grainy surveillance video of a family resembling the McStays crossing the border into Mexico, the San Diego, California police department wrote them off as having voluntarily disappeared. Their extended family spent years trying to convince the police that it was not possible that Joseph and Summer would voluntarily disappear in such a way.
For years the interweb forums debated the question of what happened to the McStays. Family and friends, including Joseph's business partner, the last person to see Joseph before his disappearance, Charles "Chase" Merritt, reached out to the media for help in solving the mystery. Did they leave the country voluntarily or was the disappearance the result of something more sinister? What happened to the McStays?
On November 11, 2013, the skeletal remains of the family were discovered in a shallow grave by a motorcyclist in the desert of Victorville, California, nearly 100 miles north of their southern California home. On November 5, 2014, Charles "Chase" Merritt, Joseph's business partner, was arrested and accused of their murders. According to police, Chase allegedly murdered the family in their home sometime during the evening hours of February 4, 2010. A tragic, tragic ending.
I can only hope that 2015 finally brings justice to the McStay family.
2. The Death of Robin Williams
Like many, I was shocked when I heard of the tragic passing of Robin Williams. I could not believe it. I can only hope that he has now found peace. Rest in Peace, Robin.
3. The Ridiculous Antics of Kim Kardashian
I know, I know. You're all glaring at me right now. And yes, this isn't news. But, honestly, how could I not include this? This photo was everywhere, and as much as Kim Kardashian and her desperate attention seeking annoy me, I must admit she has a great ass.
4. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS)
2014 saw the rise of the horror that is the terrorist organization known as ISIS. They have left a path of death and destruction, including the murders of Peter Kassig, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and countless others.
5. The Deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown
The tragic deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police officers have sparked numerous protests across the United States, including my hometown of New York City. A huge rift seems to have developed with many drawing extreme lines in the sand, some on the "side" of police officers, and others who feel it's time we face and discuss institutionalized racism and police brutality. Personally, I have been astonished and disgusted by some of the hate filled rants being hurled by some of the more extreme members on both sides of the issue. I'm not quite sure why some need to take such extreme stances. The issue is not so cut-and-dried--you can support police officers while also supporting changes to a system that desperately needs improvement.
6. The Deaths of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos
On December 20th, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down while sitting in a parked police cruiser on a Brooklyn street here in New York City. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, an allegedly mentally ill man who also shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend that same morning, killed these two innocent police officers as retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Ismaaiyl Brinsley then shot and killed himself.
7. Rosetta's Philae Probe Comet Landing
I'm a space geek so this one touched my geeky space loving heart. On November 12th, the Philea probe successfully landed on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Sadly, the probe went silent a few days later. Still, it was one hell of an accomplishment. And scientists were able to collect quite a bit of scientific data, such as the discovery that water vapour from the comet is significantly different than that found on Earth: