Kit Colburn back home with his father Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Austin Lewis/13WMAZ).
From Salecia Johnson, the 6-year-old Milledgeville girl who was handcuffed by police, and the search for Kit Colburn, the young Warner Robins boy who went missing, to the filming of Harrison Ford's "42," to Wilkinson County's Honey Boo Boo ascending to pop culture icon status and Saxby Chambliss sparking a national debate after an interview with Kenny Burgamy, here are the biggest local stories we covered in 2012.
Less than two weeks into 2012, pictures emerged of Macon Police officers playing football behind a store on Presidential Parkway while on-duty. The officers were not suspended but did receive a written reprimand.
Early in February, rape charges against seven Northeast High School students were dropped when the alleged victim admitted she lied to investigators. Fallout from the case, which started in January, ranged from parents not being notified to Superintendent Romain Dallemand's claim that he didn't know Macon Police weren't investigating and his suspension of the interim campus police chief who he said hadn't kept her superiors updated, despite emails that proved otherwise. In November, the alleged victim and her mother filed a lawsuit against the school system.
March dealt the 13WMAZ family a tough blow when Nick Malloy, a young singer-songwriter and the son of anchor Frank Malloy, was in a single-car accident that required emergency surgery. But Nick's friends rallied around him and in August he returned home, later serving as the grand marshal of Centerville's Christmas parade.
In April, Milledgeville police handcuffed 6-year-old Salecia Johnson when she caused a disturbance at school. Her parents spoke out about it and the story drew worldwide attention, but Milledgeville's acting police chief defended it saying she'd caused damage at the school, injured the principal and they couldn't find her relatives.
On May 8, Kit Colburn walked out of school in Warner Robins, setting off a search by law-enforcement and civilian volunteers. Three days into the search, Kit was found hiding close to the staging area for the search.
Downtown Macon was transported back to the 1940s for the filming of the movie "42." Scenes were also shot at Luther Williams Field. Here's a special section that collects our video coverage and stories.
Kathleen was thrown into tragedy when a 12-year-old girl was found dead after a house fire. The victim, India Collins, was later determined to have been killed by multiple gunshot wounds. Authorities said the fire set afterwards. Her sister, Carmen Kaneisha Collins, was arrested in Columbus with the family car that had been reported missing after the fire. She was charged with murder and arson, but pleaded not guilty in November. A month earlier, India was remembered by her parents and classmates in a ceremony unveiling a plaque.
Perhaps no news was more significant for the city of Macon and Bibb County, as a whole, than the passing of Consolidation on July 31. Citizens had debated the move since 1919, but at 11:02 p.m. on 13WMAZ, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert finally claimed victory for the effort, which goes into effect in January 2014.
Six-year-old Alana Thompson made McIntyre one of the world's best-known small towns. She's the star of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Here's our extended interview with Alana's mom June. Alana pops in for a cameo appearance.
In September, we reported about a Warner Robins woman, Cindy Nerger, who said she was ridiculed by a Kroger manager for using food stamps. Having suffered kidney failure, Nerger is on dialysis and unable to work full-time. After her story got national attention, Kroger transferred the manager and promised to retrain their employees.
A concerned neighbor contacted Macon police, worried something happened to 58-year-old Gail Spencer, who was found dead inside her home. Initially investigated as a 'suspicious death,' police later arrested four suspects and charged them with the murder of Spencer, who authorities say was suffocated. Investigators searched Echeconnee Creek and then returned to the murder scene.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss got into the middle of the national debate about reducing the national debt when he declared independence from anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. The resulting dissension among conservatives even led Erick Erickson, a former Macon City Councilman and present radio/TV pundit, to consider a run at Chambliss's seat. He later decided against it.
Right before Christmas, a Crawford County teenager, who hoped to dress up like Santa for his classmates, was suspended from school because of a Facebook post he made about it. His story was later featured in Gawker, the Huffington Post and Fark.