Local News

Most viewed local stories of the year on WRAL.com

Posted December 24, 2017 7:00 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:06 p.m. EDT

The end of 2017 is here, and WRAL.com is taking a look at the most viewed stories of the year. According to our records, these local stories topped the charts.

Check out other Year in Review content

Sheriff: Franklin County man decapitated mother

An 18-year-old man was charged with first-degree murder after authorities said he decapitated his mother on March 6. Officers said the suspect, Oliver Mauricio Funes Machada, actually walked out of his home with a large butcher knife in one hand and his mother's head in the other. Funes Machada, who finished 10th grade at Rolesville High School, was taking a medication for some kind of mental health condition, according to court documents.

Oliver Mauricio Funes Machada

Duke Life Flight crash kills four

Four people were killed on Sept. 8 when a Duke Life Flight medical helicopter crashed in northeast North Carolina, according to the State Highway Patrol.

Sheriff: Body found in woods is teen who went missing after crash

The body of Lauren Maria Jenkins was found in a wooded area in Raleigh a week after the teen was reported missing after she was involved in a car accident at the intersection of Leesville Road and O'Neal Road. Autopsy reports later determined she died due to hypothermia.

Wilmington officer demoted after lying about law during traffic stop

A Wilmington police officer who was filmed lying to an Uber driver about a state law that allows people to film police was demoted after an internal investigation. Sgt. Kenneth Becker was filmed by Uber driver Jesse Bright, who is also a defense attorney, during a traffic stop in late February. Becker told Bright that he could not film police under a new state law.

Wake Forest woman wins $10K, $1M scratch off lottery tickets in same day

In November, Kimberly Morris thought she was having a good day when she bought a $4 million Diamond Dazzler ticket at the Harris Teeter on Brodgen Woods Drive in Wake Forest and won $10,000. She took the $20 scratch-off ticket to lottery headquarters in Raleigh to claim her prize. On her way home, she stopped at the Quality Food Mart on Durham Road in Raleigh and bought another ticket. The second ticket netted her one of the game's six $1 million prizes.

Diamond Dazzler

RDU employee reported missing after taking break at work

Allison Cope was reported missing in June after she clocked out for a break from her job at the Terminal 2 Starbucks in RDU. Cope took a scheduled break at 3 p.m. but did not return. She was reported missing around 7 p.m. and, later, was found in Virginia, where she told police that she was stressed out and needed to get away from her problems.

Allison Cope

Warrant: Mother's boyfriend 'secretly disposed' of Mariah Woods' body

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI arrested 32-year-old Earl Kimrey on Dec. 1 and charged him with concealing a death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, larceny and possession of stolen property after the disappearance of three-year-old Mariah Woods.

Wife laid to rest, husband faces murder charge with cold medicine defense

"I had a dream, and then I turn on the lights and she's dead on the floor," Matthew Phelps told a 911 dispatcher about his wife, Lauren Phelps. "I have blood all over me, and there's a bloody knife on the bed, and I think I did it." Lauren was an auditor at Quintiles, according to her obituary, and a 2011 graduate of Appalachian State University.

Wedding photo of Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps and Matthew Phelps

Realtor finds two bodies in Chapel Hill residence

In October, a realtor walked into a home off E. Franklin Street and found the two bodies. According to neighbors, the house has been on the market for more than a year. Neighbors feared it was their beloved neighbor, in her 80s, and her son.

Former WRAL reporter Mark Binker dies

Veteran statehouse journalist and former WRAL News multimedia investigative reporter Mark Binker died unexpectedly at his home in April. He was 43. Binker, a friend to many at WRAL, leaves behind his beloved wife, Marla, and sons Mason and Max. A heavily-attended memorial service was held on May 12 at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in downtown Raleigh, where friends and family shared their stories of Binker.

Mark Binker

Mike Peterson walks free as 15-year murder case ends with plea deal

Mike Peterson walked out of a Durham County courtroom in February a convicted felon but a free man after pleading guilty to killing his wife more than 15 years ago. The 73-year-old novelist and one-time Durham mayoral candidate wrote what is likely the final chapter in one of the most notorious and longest-running criminal cases in the Triangle by continuing to maintain his innocence in the Dec. 9, 2001, death of Kathleen Peterson, who was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's Durham mansion.

Mike Peterson in court

Scotty McCreery proposes to longtime girlfriend

McCreery, a Garner native, popped the question to his longtime girlfriend, Gabi Dugal, near Grandfather Mountain in September.

Scotty McCreery proposes to longtime girlfriend

Disney World designer finalizes plans for NC theme park 'Whirligig Woods'

Whirligig Woods, a 21-acre theme park in Saxapahaw, would include thrilling rides, a haunted land, a tree house resort and more. The designer plans to break ground in 2018 with the first phase of Whirligig Woods opening in 2019.

'Don't go to Cary tomorrow': Man charged with making online threat

Garrett Asger Grimsley allegedly posted an online public message on the messaging app Whisper, stating "don't go to Cary tomorrow," on Feb. 19. The 27-year-old man faced federal charges for his actions.

Garrett Grimsley