ANTELOPE VALLEY – From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012 (at 5 pm), www.theavtimes.com garnered more than two million pages views (2,001,552 to be exact) from 340,685 unique visitors, according to Google Analytics.
We owe this tremendous surge in readership to loyal readers, like you, who visited our site each day, commented on our articles and shared them with your friends and family.
With 2013 just hours away, we’re taking a look back at the stories of 2012 that contributed to our growing readership.
The following are our Top 10 Most Viewed Stories of 2012.
10. Family seeks justice for man shot dead by roommate
On Feb. 7, 2012, 21-year-old James McElroy Jr. was shot to death in the east Palmdale apartment he shared with his roommate, Nicholas Harper. Deputies who responded to the scene arrested Harper for the crime. Days after the murder, we spoke to grieving mother, Clemmie Graves, and McElroy’s girlfriend, Carla Morales. Both women detailed the last moments with their loved one. The story apparently resonated with many of our readers, making it the Number 10 most viewed story for 2012. Read it here.
Note: In May, Harper was ordered to stand trial for the murder of McElroy. Harper is currently in custody on $2 million bail as he awaits trial.
9. Murder suspect surrenders, tells her story
On May 2, 2012, 21-year-old mother of three, Neffertashia Burroughs, turned herself in to the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station for the Feb. 29 murder of Mantwell James.
On the way to the Palmdale Station, a sobbing Burroughs spoke to The AV Times about the events that led up to the fatal encounter. She said she was speaking to the media because she had nothing to hide, and she wanted the public to know how sorry she was for what happened.
Burroughs’ side of the story was our 9th most viewed story for 2012. Read it here.
Note: In September, a superior court judge ordered Burroughs to stand trial for the murder of 25-year-old Mantwell James.
8. Family, coworkers remember men lost in alleged DUI crash
On Feb. 26, 2012, Beau Josh Owen Fluker, 26, and Jeffrey Gilstrap, 23, were carpooling home, after a late night shift at Walmart, when their car was struck in the intersection of 20th Street West and Avenue J.
The vehicle overturned several times, and both men died at the scene. Sympathy for the two men poured in from the entire community – especially from the Valley Central Walmart, where both men had worked just hours before their deaths. The following day, we visited that Walmart and spoke to several devastated coworkers. The story was our 8th most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
Note: The driver of the vehicle that struck Beau and Jeff was 21-year-old Tommie Lee Cole. Cole was determined to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. He was charged with two counts of murder and ordered to stand trial. Cole is currently in custody on $2 million bail.
7. Lancaster Wendy’s erupts in fire
On May 15, 2012, an AV Times reporter was driving down Lancaster Boulevard, on her way to the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, when smoke in the sky caught her eye. Curious as to what it was, she abandoned her trip to the Sheriff’s Station and made a left turn on 10th Street West instead. Just a couple of blocks away, the smoke was so thick you couldn’t even see what was on fire.
By the time the smoke cleared, a firefighter had been injured and Wendy’s restaurant had been gutted by flames and declared a total loss. The Wendy’s restaurant fire was our 7th most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
6. Man shot to death in Lancaster
On Nov. 29, 2012, at 1:30 in the afternoon, several shots rang out near Coaches Sports Bar on Gadsden Avenue in Lancaster. Our sources told us a teenager was shot and killed. We followed up with witnesses at the scene who said the shooting stemmed from a huge street brawl. Sheriff’s detectives at the scene warned us not to expect any information until a preliminary investigation was completed. Still, we felt compelled to let the public know about the violent event, right away; so we posted what information we did have to our facebook page and at this site. The bare bones initial story became our 6th most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
Note: The victim was eventually identified as 21-year-old Brandon Houston, and three men were charged with his murder. His family members believe the actual gunman is still on the loose. Read more on that here.
5. Donations needed for teen seriously injured in motorcycle crash
On April 24, 2012, Zac Lutz was riding to his second day of work at Antelope Valley Harley Davidson, when a truck u-turned in front of him. The collision sent the 19-year-old crashing onto the pavement, face first, and landed him in the hospital with serious injuries. We did not cover the initial story, because we were unable to get details from sheriff’s officials. Days later, a family member contacted us with details on the crash.
We wrote a story about fundraising efforts that were being put together to help cover the cost of the teen’s recovery. The story struck a chord with thousands of readers, making it our 5th most viewed story in 2012. Read it here.
STORY UPDATE: Zac Lutz still has possible permanent injuries and must take pain medications; however, he is doing fantastic. He is also happily married! The motorcycle accident happened just two and a half months shy of Zac’s original wedding date, which halted his wedding plans. But after several surgeries and an excruciating rehabilitation, Zac slowly walked down the aisle to marry his bride. The happy couple even danced one slow dance. Family members attribute Zac’s recovery to lots and lots of prayers from the community and a strong network of family and friends.
“He was determined to marry our daughter. He kept his eye on the prize, his new wife, Nicole Romain, and she never left his side,” states proud mother-in-law Janice Romain. “Also, the love between them was and still is so strong. And God obviously had more plans here for Zachary Lutz.”
4. Alleged DUI driver-pleads not guilty, family grieves victims
In the early morning hours of March 13, 2012, Angelica Goins-Jones was driving home, after a long night spent helping a family member move. As Goins-Jones waited to make a left turn onto 10th Street West, from Avenue L, she was broadsided by a large pickup truck and killed instantly. Her husband, Patrick Jones, was left clinging to life at Antelope Valley Hospital. The pickup truck’s driver, 28-year-old Jodi Biers, was arrested for DUI and several other charges. Days later, Biers cried throughout her arraignment and repeatedly apologized to the crowded courtroom before pleading not guilty to the charges.
Family members of Goins-Jones shared their grief with The AV Times that day. The story attracted views from around the country and was our 4th most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
Note: Jodi Biers was eventually charged with murder for the death of Angelica Goins-Jones, along with several other charges. Biers was ordered to stand trial on all charges, and remains in custody on $1 million bail.
3. Teen shot and killed in Palmdale
On Sept. 24, 2012, 17-year-old Christopher Flores was gunned down near his home in east Palmdale. Hours later, Victor Flores was arrested for the crime, and sheriff’s detectives said the shooting stemmed from a “feud between neighbors.”
We talked to several witnesses and neighbors in the area; but their stories differed so drastically that we declined to publish any version of the events. Those neighbors and witnesses aired their versions of the story in our comments section, instead. They’ve continue to do so each day since the incident, making it our 3rd most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
Note: Days after the shooting, 36-year-old Victor Flores was charged with one count of murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He has yet to enter a plea on the charges, and remains in custody on $2.2 million bail.
2. Memorial established for toddler killed in crash
On Dec. 6, 2012, around 4:56 p.m., Madison Ruano and her mom, Tina, were riding in a blue Lexus, going northbound on 10th Street West, when their vehicle was struck by a black Toyota that ran a red light. Two-year-old Madison was killed in the collision, and Tina suffered serious injuries.
The Toyota’s driver, 45-year-old Marvin Hicks, was fleeing deputies at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour at the time of the crash, authorities said. Madison’s sudden death devastated the community, and sympathy and support from around the world poured in for the Ruano family.
A popular UK publication contacted The AV Times and asked to use our photo of a makeshift memorial at the crash site. We granted permission, and their linkback to www.theavtimes.com created a tremendous surge in viewership, making the story our 2nd most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
Note: Hicks was charged with murder for the death of Madison, and he pleaded not guilty to the charge. He remains jailed on $1.1 million bail, with a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 17, 2013.
1. Sheriff’s Department responds to fight at Lancaster High School
We, too, got the now infamous facebook message, which claimed a female student at Lancaster High School was brutally beaten by a male student because of her sexuality.
We attempted to contact the source of the message, as well as family members connected to the story, but we were unsuccessful. We dismissed the story as “gossip.”
Two days later, we received a press release from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station on the incident. By this time, the story was viral on facebook, with thousands of readers taking sides. Unable to verify any details of the story, we simply published the sheriff’s press release “as is.” To our surprise, that press release garnered more than 60,000 page views from readers around the world, making it our number one most viewed story of 2012. Read it here.
Honorable mention: Arrest Logs
Nearly every month of 2012, our Arrest Logs Category garnered more pages views than all other categories combined. Still, we continue to receive several emails each month from readers asking us not to publish the arrest logs. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Arrest Logs, we will not be honoring requests to discontinue this category in 2013. If popularity declines, we are definitely open to making this change in the future. We hope you can understand this decision.
As always, thanks for reading… Happy New Year!