Year in Review: WLFI's most unusual headlines of 2019

2019 brought good, bad and strange news.

Posted: Dec 31, 2019 10:34 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Over the course of 365 days, we have collected a lot of news. This year, News 18 has covered crime, legislation, education and those stories that just make you feel good. However, 2019 brought many stories that made us do a double-take and say, "Did I just hear that?"

Zebra dies on Carroll County farm

On Jan. 30 on a cold Carroll County farm, News 18 learned a zebra died. The State Board of Animal Health said the zebra's back hooves were stuck in fencing. In the animal's panic, it inhaled enough cold air to cause internal damage that led to its death. 

The property also had kangaroos.

Pigeons dumped at I-65 rest stop three times

More than 190 pigeons were found dumped three separate times at a White County rest stop. The pigeons were all found in the same boxes in December, February and March. 

The birds were believed to be part of an illegal gambling ring and were abused.

Many of the pigeons are now recovering with wildlife rehabilitators.

Adult Easter egg hunt closes State Road 26

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office had to step in when an overwhelming amount of people showed up to an "adults only" Easter egg hunt. More than 1,700 people showed up to Cary Camp for the 'Scouting for Eggs' hunt on April 17.

So many cars were parked along State Road 26, the sheriff's office had to shut it down. 

Some people didn't even find one egg, but many said they still enjoyed their time. 

Manhunt suspect comments on WLFI post during search

A man accused of a Tippecanoe County kidnapping and rape appeared to make a post on a WLFI web story in June.

Less than 24 hours into the search for Paul Etter, police began the investigation into the online post. Etter wrote he was intoxicated, and the devil was involved. The days-long search ended when Etter killed himself during a standoff with deputies in Boone County. 

Man arrested for knocking over WLFI camera

In June, what a News 18 crew thought was going to be a typical day on the job turned into a smashed camera and a man behind bars

WLFI was in Danville, Illinois covering a story on the legalization of marijuana in the state and its effects on Indiana law enforcement. During an interview with a liquor store owner, two customers walked into the store. 

George Papoutsis said he didn't want to be on camera and then pushed it over. The camera was rolling the whole time.

Papoutsis admitted to the crime. He was arrested on a charge of criminal damage.

Barnett child neglect case

September brought one of the strangest stories seen in our area in quite sometime. Charges were filed in Tippecanoe County against two parents accused of changing their adopted daughters' age from 8 to 22, putting her in a Lafayette apartment and moving to Canada.

Michael and Kristine Barnett said Natalia would try to kill them. Natalia, who has dwarfism, went on Dr. Phil and claimed she is now 16 and never tried to harm the Barnetts. Prosecutors have since charged the Barnett's with additional counts of neglect resulting in bodily injury.

A gag order is in effect. The case in on-going.

Fake-bearded bank robber holds up several Greater Lafayette banks

Police arrested an Illinois man who admitted to robbing at least four Greater Lafayette banks. Police said 41-year-old Joseph Kruger was the fake-bearded man behind a rash of local robberies within a six month span.

The arrest came after he robbed the Centier Bank in West Lafayette in late October. Banks were robbed in Linden, Lafayette and Hillsboro, and a majority involved fake beards or other costumes.

Mountain lion spotting in Fowler

Residents reportedly saw mountain lion in Fowler. Police sent out an announcement in October that got the whole town talking. How the possible mountain lion got to Fowler is unclear.

Woman strangled to death by python in sheriff's snake home

The night before Halloween, a woman was found dead in a reptile home with a snake wrapped around her neck. Laura Hurst died by asphyxiation in a home owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson.

The Battle Ground mother was visiting the home, which had 140 snakes inside.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

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