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WTOL.com's most-read news stories of 2020

Harley Dilly, Braylen Noble, a slain Toledo police officer and COVID-19. It's been a big year for news and here were our top stories for each month of 2020.
Credit: WTOL

TOLEDO, Ohio — It's been a wild year.

From crime to COVID-19 and tragedies like the deaths of missing children Harley Dilly and Braylen Noble, our area has seen a lot over the past 12 months.

As 2020 turns to 2021, here's a look back at the top stories that WTOL.com readers read each month.

MOST-READ STORIES OF 2020

JANUARY

Expert explains chimney design to surmise how Harley Dilly's coat, glasses were on 2nd floor of house

Harley Dilly, a Port Clinton teenager who went missing from his home in December 2019, was found dead in the chimney of a vacant house on Jan. 13. Viewers had questions about how he got there and details of the scene. 

Our top story for January with 214,468 visitors answers those questions. 

A local chimney expert agreed to talk to us anonymously about chimney design in order to shed light on the situation. Not knowing the exact layout of the house's chimney, or if there was even a fireplace opening, at 507 Fulton St., he agreed to talk in general terms. 

Read the story here.

FEBRUARY

Schools respond to alleged hair-pulling incident at girls basketball game

A viral video and an incident during a basketball game that left a Norwalk student-athlete injured, likely never to play basketball again.

February's top story with 30,663 visitors covers the response from Norwalk and Bellevue, after a Bellevue basketball player pulled the hair of a Norwalk player, sending her to the ground. 

Read the story here.

In a follow-up report by our sister station WKYC, it was revealed the Norwalk player suffered a "severe concussion" from the incident and her father said she will likely never play basketball again. The Norwalk girl and her family publicly accepted the apology from the Bellevue girl involved and forgave her.

MARCH 

Coronavirus update | Schools closing for 3 weeks; gatherings of 100 or more people are banned in Ohio 

March marked a shift for 2020, as attention turned to a virus that had begun to spread rapidly across the United States. Briefings and numbers from Gov. Mike DeWine would become a new regular.

On March 12, five people were confirmed to have COVID-19 in Ohio. Schools were ordered to close for what was, at the time, expected to be three weeks. 

"These numbers will grow," DeWine said during that day's coronavirus update. "We are told by medical experts, whatever the number is today, it will double in six days and that continues on and on."

March's top story with 124,660 visitors covered one of the early days and early moves by the State of Ohio and former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton to attempt to slow the spread.

Read the story here.

APRIL 

Ohio Coronavirus Update | 15,963 total COVID-19 cases, 728 deaths 

In just over a month, cases of COVID-19 increased dramatically. Weeks earlier, daily reports had begun to include another grim number: deaths.

April's most-read story with 42,619 visitors covers one week of updates, including the announcement that schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic school year. Contact tracing was explained and implemented. The state worked to acquire more tests as the need grew rapidly. 

728 Ohioans had died from COVID-19.

Read the story here.

MAY 

Potential COVID-19 exposure at Lucas County barbershop 

The state gave businesses like barbershops, salons and spas the green light to reopen starting on May 15. 

The top story for May with 43,279 visitors was an announcement by the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department of a potential COVID-19 exposure concern that had occurred the day a barbershop in Curtice had reopened.

Read the story here.

JUNE

Woman dies after being left at scene of hit-and-run motorcycle crash in west Toledo 

A woman was left behind, badly injured and laying in the road after being thrown from a motorcycle during a hit-and-run crash. The motorcyclist she was with and the driver of the car fled the scene.

Our top story for June with 58,200 visitors was 34-year-old Rachel Ciralsky's tragic death. 

Read the story here.

JULY

Toledo police officer shot and killed in west Toledo; Suspect found dead

A shooting in the early morning hours of July 4 left a Toledo police officer dead and a community in mourning. 

Officer Anthony Dia responded to a call of an intoxicated man at a Home Depot parking lot in west Toledo just after midnight on July 4. He was the first to arrive on scene, checking to see if the man was okay. The man was walking away from Dia when he suddenly turned and fired a handgun, shooting and killing the 26-year-old police officer.

Officers later found the suspect dead from an apparent gunshot injury to the head in a nearby wooded area.

A public memorial grew for Dia. Mourners filled Savage Arena for his memorial service. 

With 97,060 visitors, July's top story was the line of duty death of Officer Anthony Dia.

Read the story here.

AUGUST

Findlay priest arrested on sex trafficking charges

August's top story with 67,492 visitors is the federal arrest of a Findlay priest after an FBI investigation into allegations that he had been involved in sexual contact with minors since the late 1990s. 

53-year-old Father Michael Zacharias was immediately placed on leave by the Diocese of Toledo, with Bishop Daniel Thomas expressing his shock and revulsion at the allegations of sexual misconduct against the priest.

Zacharias, a priest at St. Michael the Archangel Parish, was indicted on charges that include sex trafficking of minor, sex trafficking of an adult and minor by force, fraud and coercion.  

Read the story here.

SEPTEMBER

Coroner releases early notes in the death of Braylen Noble, 3

A little boy gone missing, found dead just a few days later in the pool at his apartment complex in an area that had been searched several times by crews.

The coroner's early notes regarding the death of south Toledo toddler 3-year-old Braylen Noble was September's top story, with 82,660 visitors.

No obvious signs of trauma were found on the boy's body and drowning has not been ruled out yet as a cause of death. 

Months later, Braylen's death remains under investigation. 

Read the story here.

OCTOBER

Police: Toledo woman left children to care for themselves while she slept 

A Toledo woman arrested, charged with endangering children in an apartment covered in feces and urine.

The arrest of Anita Thomas is October's top story with 32,365 visitors. Thomas left her children to care for themselves while she slept, according to police. 

Thomas was also charged with obstructing official business after police say she refused to put her hands behind her back and pulled away from officers during her arrest.

Read the story here.

NOVEMBER

Man dead after shooting on McCord Rd.; suspect in custody

A shooting in late November that left a man dead was the most-read story that month with 36,364 visitors.

On Nov. 27, Zechariah Klaus Gauer was arrested and charged with murder after allegedly shooting a man on the 3600 block of McCord Rd. A confrontation led to Gauer shooting and killing the victim, according to Sylvania Twp. police.

Read the story here.

DECEMBER

Business owner files lawsuit over long lines at Secor Rd. Chick-Fil-A 

With 29,013 visitors, a lawsuit filed by local businessman Mario Kiezi against Chick-Fil-A on Secor Rd. was December's top story.

The lawsuit alleges that the long lines at the Secor Rd. location of Chick-Fil-A impedes potential traffic to the businesses in the shopping plaza right behind it. 

Business owners share concern over the parking lot congestion caused by Chick-Fil-A's drive-thru line as the shopping plaza grows.

Read the story here.

2020 has been quite the year with major stories in our area, some of which will continue on into 2021. 

Stay tuned as we keep you updated along the way on air, on our news app and of course, right here on WTOL.com.

Check out our full Year in Review coverage including the following stories:

Newsmakers we lost in 2020 

Sports figures we lost in 2020  

Entertainers we lost in 2020 

Key moments that defined the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020