When reviewing the top local news stories for 2013, readers were confronted with unspeakable tragedy, new law enforcement strategies, surprising courtroom developments and new area business opportunities. According to the Tribune Chronicle staff, these were the year's biggest stories:
1. Six teens killed in accident
The death of six Warren teenagers in an SUV crash early the morning of March 9 rocked the community and made headlines and newscasts nationwide.
Eight teens were in the 1998 Honda Passport that veered off the left side of Pine S.E. near Burton about 7 a.m. that Sunday, hit a guardrail and overturned.
The vehicle then became submerged on its roof in a pond. Two of the occupants were able to escape the SUV and ran to a nearby residence to call 911. Warren city fire crews removed five victims from inside the vehicle. A sixth victim was ejected during the crash and was found under the vehicle when it was being removed from the water.
Injured in the accident were Brian K. Henry, 18, and Asher C. Lewis, 15. Killed were Alexis Cayson, 19; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 17; and Ramone M. White, 15. All of the victims were from Warren.
The Top 10 Local Stories:
1. 6 teens killed
2. JFK scandal
3. Month of violence
4. 97 busted
5. Funeral directors
7. New Year's Eve murder
8. Sunshine revelations
9. Braceville raid
10. Stuard's death
Three of the victims attended Warren G. Harding High School, two attended Willard, and one was a former Harding student.
Thousands of people turned out to mourn during the series of funerals.
2. JFK Scandal
Brother Stephen Baker committed suicide Jan. 25 after allegations that he abused at least 11 former students while teaching at the John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Warren .
Baker, 62, died of a self-inflicted knife wound at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg, Pa., where he was living.
In October 2012, those former students reached a settlement with the Catholic high school in Warren, the Diocese of Youngtown and and the Third Order Regular Franciscan Order over allegations of sexual abuse.
The men claimed the abuse took place when they were members of the JFK baseball team between 1986 and 1990 when Baker was a coach and trainer, and told them they needed treatment for injuries.
The allegations claimed national attention as claims against Baker from other former students in several states surfaced in several states even after his death.
3. Month of violence
October marked one of Warren's most violent months in recent history, which began with the shooting death of Taemarr Walker during a confrontation with a city police officer on Oct. 19.
That was followed by a week of social media threats against city police officers, increased security within the city school district and the cancellation of the final football game of the season at Warren G. Harding High School.
The turbulent month culminated with a second fatal shooting that took the life of Richard Rollison on the morning of Oct. 26. Tashawn Walker, the brother of Taemarr Walker, is facing an aggravated murder charge in Rollison's death and is waiting to stand trial.
Warren City police asked the Ohio State Highway Patrol for help to provide additional patrols, creating a police presence citywide.
4. 97 busted
Crime pipelines from here to Detroit and other major cities took a hit April 17 and the days following as law enforcement rounded up dozens of suspected drug dealers across the Mahoning Valley and elsewhere.
Officials said the sweep, dubbed "Operation: Little D-Town," was a major step in cleaning Warren's streets and a targeted effort coordinated among several law enforcement agencies.
Dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officials converged upon the city to help with the roundup.
In all, 19 federal indictments were unsealed charging 55 people - including a man accused in the Nov. 11, 2012, shooting death of Marco Dukes Sr. - with various violations of federal narcotics and weapons charges in Warren and the surrounding area. At the same time, 42 people were charged in state indictments.
By the following Monday most of the indicted had been arrested.
5. Funeral directors charged
At the beginning of December, one of the area's most controversial stories came to a head when three local funeral home owners were indicted by a grand jury on charges of grand theft and other felony offenses.
The arrests stemmed from an investigation into the misappropriation of money paid to their businesses through prepaid funeral plans.
Those charged included Robert P. McDermott, 51, of Niles, owner of McDermott Funeral Home in Niles, and Robert J. McClurkin, 49, and Patrick J. McClurkin, 47, each of Girard and owners of McClurkin Funeral Home in Girard.
The three men turned themselves over to authorities on a combined 49 counts of various charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
If convicted, each of the three defendants may face up to 20 years in prison.
The brothers running McClurkin Funeral Home are facing 178 administrative violations, with more than half of the charges accusing them of misappropriating $400,000 from 2005 to 2012. The records also show 90 separate instances in which money was paid in advance for services, but not entrusted.
The unrelated case against McDermott includes allegations that claim he converted more than $150,000 he received, also for preneed services, for his personal use. The state attorney general's office also put a tax lien on McDermott.
A top news story that perhaps will have the longest-lasting effect is the growth and development triggered by natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Utica Shale Play.
Development of deep-well drilling in 2013 has led to deep divides among the public, with opponents forming groups like "Frack-Free Mahoning Valley," working to inform the public of environmental hazards associated with drilling and inconveniences to neighbors like deafening sounds of flaring, smells of petroleum and blinding lights around-the-clock at drill sites.
Some residents of a Westwood Lake Mobile Home Park in Weathersfield made news in 2013 as they became vocal about the ongoing disruption of their normally peaceful natural setting by repeated drilling and fracking at the Kibler Well in Lordstown.
Supporters, however, argue that along with hydraulic fracturing comes the promise of needed economic development. Industries like pipe manufacturing and distribution have begun an influx to the Mahoning Valley, bringing with them thousands of new jobs.
A web of pipeline infrastructure continues to be laid throughout areas of Trumbull and Mahoning counties, in preparation for the flow of natural gas products, mostly heading south to massive transmission pipelines linking the sources of natural gas in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Gulf Coast.
The issue of deep-well drilling in 2013 twice triggered attempts to pass anti-drilling ballot issues in Youngstown, and plans for yet another attempt at passage, along with talk now of attempting to pass an anti-frac issue in Niles. The ballot issues entitled "Community Bill of Rights" would effectively ban any oil and natural gas-related development within the city limits. The issue failed during the May primary and November general election in Youngstown.
7. New Year's Eve murder
As the clock passed midnight in Warren on the early morning of Jan. 1, 2013, the year got off to a troubling start.
During a party inside the Sunset Lounge, a fight broke out on the dance floor just after 2 a.m., ending in gunshots. A 25-year-old man was wounded and later pronounced dead at Trumbull Memorial Hospital of multiple gunshot wounds.
The victim, Cory Blackwell of Warren, was found outside the bar, located at 480 E. Market St. Police say an argument inside escalated into the shooting.
No one has been arrested in connection with the murder.
The incident prompted closure of the downtown bar, which had been marred in controversy. The closure was done through an agreement with Warren that headed off the city seeking a nuisance abatement in court.
The building reopened Oct. 27, this time as the Warren campus of The Movement church.
8. Sunshine Revelations
Controversy surrounded nonprofit Sunshine of Warren Trumbull Area Inc. when it was revealed in April that the agency owes $188,000 in back property taxes and fees to Trumbull County.
In August, the agency found itself in even more trouble as it was announced that one of its subsidiaries owns three houses in foreclosure and has 18 others in tax delinquency. Residents living in properties owned by the agency were threatened with losing their homes due to the tax delinquencies.
More questions began to surface, including what happened to more than $4 million in Section 8 money, which was originally allotted for tax purposes.
Sunshine, according to the accounting report, forwarded some of the money to for-profit companies such as Warren Neighborhood Redevelopment. Sunshine stopped paying on the loan 10 years ago and has a balance of $737,578.
Meanwhile, in an effort to help residents from potentially losing their homes, the City of Warren and Trumbull County considered forgiving the loans.
The controversy left the agency riddled with unanswered questions, many of which remain.
9. Braceville Raid
The existence of houses of prostitution in the area posing as "spas" continued in 2013, when a Braceville business was raided by police.
On April 4, the Rose Spa on state Route 5 was shut down for good when Braceville police raided the establishment. The raid found a customer engaged in a sex act with an employee, more than 200 condoms and nearly $8,000 inside the location, according to court records.
Police executed the search warrant after a man told police he had paid $50 to get into the spa, plus additional money for various sex acts.
A month later, on-site manager Sun Cha Chae, 68, 950 Sandpiper Trail S.E., Warren, pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor prostitution and was fined $1,500 and given a 60-day suspended jail sentence.
10. Judge Stuard's death
The community mourned when retired Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge John M. Stuard, 73, died in February after suffering an apparent heart attack at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
Stuard's Feb. 7 death came just 38 days after the judge retired.
Appointed in 1983 as the first judge at newly created Central District Court in Cortland, Stuard was later appointed in 1991 to the Common Pleas bench, where he inherited the docket of Judge Robert Nader, who had been elected to the 11th District Court of Appeals.
When he was planning his retirement, Stuard said he was looking forward to spending more time inside his workshop, where he earned the reputation as a knowledgeable gunsmith.
Days later, a crowd of hundreds stood in the drizzling rain and wind to pay respects to the late judge.