As 2015 draws to a close, let’s look back on some of the events of the year in West Virginia. Here are some of the insane things to happen this year:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. A train derailed in Mount Carbon.
A train hauling 107 tank cars of crude oil from North Dakota to Virginia derailed in Mountain Carbon in February, causing a huge fire that destroyed a home and forced the evacuation of area residents. A federal investigation later found that a broken rail caused the derailment.
2. Winter felt more like spring -- at least so far.
Warm temperatures have made our winter thus far feel a lot like spring. (Still, some of our ski resorts are open, which is a good thing.)
3. A woman stole headstones and used them in a fire pit.
A woman was charged with stealing headstones from a cemetery near her home and using them in her fire pit. She allegedly stole them from Brounland Cemetery in Alum Creek. The headstones were reported missing in May and recovered the next day.
4. A former mine official convicted.
Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate mine safety standards in the three years before the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, in which 29 coal miners were killed. He was not convicted of the felony charges of securities fraud and making false statements.
5. An anonymous donor gave a thousand dollars to the Salvation Army.
A mystery donor contributed $1,000 to a Morgantown Salvation Army kettle — and has done so each year for the past 40 years. This year the bill was found at a kettle at a supermarket.
6. A sex worker may have killed a serial killer.
A Charleston woman killed a man who likely was a serial killer.
Neal Falls came to the woman’s house after answering an ad on Backpage.com. He tried to strangle her and she shot him. Police later found weapons, tools, a shovel, a bullet-proof vest and other stuff that serial killers use.
7. A Harpers Ferry man sued the school system because his daughter was taught evolution.
The man named as defendants the Jefferson County Board of Education, West Virginia State Superintendent Michael Martirano, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and asked to the court to declare the teaching of evolution unconstitutional.
8. A Cabell County man allegedly kept two deer in his house as pets.
A Cabell County man allegedly kept two pet deer in his house for at least a year. Police reportedly found the bucks in his home July 4 after they received a tip. He was charged with illegal possession of wildlife, which is a misdemeanor. The man kept hay in the house for the deer.
9. President Obama came to Charleston.
President Barack Obama came to Charleston to draw attention to the opioid epidemic.
10. Men in red suits baffled passersby.
Men wearing strange red body suits were spotted in Charleston and Huntington and, when asked, refused to say why they were dressed like that. Eventually, former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that the men were part of a campaign to raise awareness of the state’s drug overdose problems. (Note: this is not a picture of the men but the suits are similar.)
11. A Logan County attorney threatened fake spiders with unloaded gun.
A Logan County assistant prosecutor was suspended after allegedly pulling a gun and threatening to shoot fake spiders that were scattered around his office for Halloween decorations. The man was apparently very scared of spiders. He said the gun was not loaded.
12. A student took hostages at Philip Barbour High School.
The armed 14-year-old student held numerous students and a teacher hostage before surrendering, fortunately without injuring anyone.
13. A Beckley pastor was killed during what police called a random act of violence by a 19-year-old woman.
The man, Pastor Ronald Browning, was found killed with wounds to his face and head. Police say they found Camille Brown "covered in blood, urine and feces” after entering into houses nearby. She allegedly confessed her crime to police. She had no criminal history and police don't think they knew each other, according to media reports.