Missing Persons Cases Rattle the Area

Relisha Rudd. Sarah and Jacob Hoggle. Hannah Graham. It was a year of high-profile missing persons cases for D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

For some, the search for Relisha Rudd continues almost 10 months after she disappeared. Relisha, who lived in a D.C. homeless shelter, was 8 years old when she went missing on March 1. She wasn’t reported missing until March 19.

She was last seen with shelter janitor Kahlil Tatum, 51, who later committed suicide. His body was found in a heavily wooded area of Kenilworth Park in northeast Washington on March 31. Police found no sign of other remains.

Clarksburg siblings Sarah and Jacob Hoggle, who were 3 and 2 when they were last seen Sept. 7, are presumed dead by police. Some of their family members believe otherwise.

Their mother, Catherine Hoggle, is charged with child neglect and obstruction in connection with the children’s disappearance. She has a history of paranoid schizophrenia and an evaluation found her not competent to stand trial.

Unlike in the cases of Rudd and the Hoggle siblings, there is no hope left for the family of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

More than a month after she disappeared Sept. 13, Graham’s body was found in a rural area of Albemarle County, about 12 miles from campus.

The man she was last seen with, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham.

Police have said forensic evidence also connects Matthew to another girl, 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who vanished in 2009 and was later found dead.

Ebola in the United States

The 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest in history, according to the Centers for Disease Control. On Sept. 30, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the U.S. in a man who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia, with a layover at Dulles Airport during that journey.

Just a few days after news broke that a Dallas hospital was treating Thomas Eric Duncan for Ebola, hospitals throughout the country began testing people who showed similar symptoms, including one person at Howard University Hospital and another at a Maryland hospital.

While treating Duncan, who died Oct. 8, two nurses at Texas Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas also contracted the virus. One of those nurses, Nina Pham, was treated at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. She made a full recovery and was discharged Oct. 24.

Ray Rice’s Arrest Sparks National Discussion on Domestic Violence in the NFL

The issue of domestic violence within the NFL became a hot topic in 2014 after former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested in February and a video of him dragging his then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer out of an Atlantic City casino elevator surfaced online.

In July, the NFL administered Rice a two-game suspension to start the 2014 regular season.

In August, after an unprecedented volume of criticism for a seemingly “slap on the wrist” punishment of Rice, the NFL announced that it would implement strict new standards for all players and personnel involved in instances of domestic violence.

In September, hours after a second video showing Rice punching Palmer in the face inside the elevator surfaced online, the Ravens released Rice and the league announced that he would be suspended indefinitely.

However, in November, an arbitrator threw out Rice’s indefinite suspension, freeing him to play again.

Michael Brown and Eric Garner Protests Held in D.C. and Baltimore

The lack of indictments in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, black men who died at the hands of white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York, respectively, led to civil unrest and protests throughout the U.S. this year, including in the D.C. area.

College students participated in “die-ins.” Protesters blocked traffic in the District and Baltimore. Minority congressional staffers walked out of their jobs on Capitol Hill.

On Dec. 13, more than 10,000 protesters marched down Pennsylvania Avenueto call attention to the deaths and call for legislative action. The families of Garner and Brown were in attendance, as well.

Plane Crashes Into Gaithersburg Neighborhood, Killing 6

A small, private jet slammed into a Gaithersburg neighborhood Dec. 8, killing a woman and her young sons inside a home and three people on the aircraft.

More than $475,000 has been raised so far on a GoFundMe page for the surviving widower and daughter of 36-year-old Marie Gemmell, who died alongside 3-year-old Cole and a 1-month-old Devon.

A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board says there were marginal visual meteorological conditions at the time of the crash.

Power Shifts With National and Local Elections

First, Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor in January.

In April, Muriel Bowser won the District of Columbia’s Democratic mayoral primary, defeating incumbent Vincent Gray. She was elected as D.C.’s seventh mayor on Nov. 4.

Also on Nov. 4, Republican Larry Hogan pulled off an upset in the Maryland governor’s race, beating out Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin.

Nationally, Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress.

‘Mayor for Life’ Marion Barry Dies

Marion Barry, D.C.’s Ward 8 council member and former mayor of the city, died Nov. 23 at age 78.

His death was caused by heart problems related to high blood pressure, and his kidney disease was a contributing factor, according to the D.C. medical examiner.

Barry, who was known by many as D.C.’s “Mayor for Life,” was a huge figure in local politics for many years, despite being involved in several scandals.

Memorial services for Barry lasted three days and were attended by thousands.

Mall Shooting Rocks Columbia

A College Park 19-year-old opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun in the Zumiez skate store in Columbia Mall Jan. 25, killing two people and eventually turning the gun on himself.

Investigators found no indication that Darion Aguilar knew his victims — 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson, but say he appeared obsessed with mass murder and may have fixated on the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, dressing like one of the shooters and timing his attack so that it occurred about the same time of day as the Colorado massacre.

Howard County officials responded to the tragedy by taking steps to improve mental health services. In June, County Executive Ken Ulman signed an executive order to create a task force to address gaps in the system.

Metro’s Silver Line Opens

After decades of anticipation, Metro’s long-awaited Silver Line began carrying loads of passengers to and from northern Virginia in July.

Proponents say the new stations will help transform Tysons Corner, Virginia, from a driving destination into a walkable residential and commercial center.

On Dec. 3, Fairfax County officials agreed to the terms for a $403 million federal loan for the second phase of the Silver Line, which will connect Metro to Dulles International Airport and is set to be finished in 2018.

Fence Jumpers Lead to Questioning of White House Security

The Secret Service came under severe scrutiny in 2014 after five people, including one toddler, made it past the White House fence.

It began in early spring, when a man scaled the fence around 4 p.m. on March 30 and was immediately arrested. In August, a toddler squeezed through the slats. A man made it over the fence on Sept. 11, as well.

A more serious attempt came on Sept. 19, when a man later identified as 42-year-old Army veteran Omar Gonzalez made it all the way into the executive mansion. He was armed with a knife when he was arrested and officials later found 800 rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in his vehicle.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson abruptly resigned in October amid criticism over the security lapses.

The Homeland Security Department did an investigation into the Secret Service’s failings in the Sept. 19 incident.

On Oct. 22, another breach occurred. This time, 23-year-old Dominic Adesanya, of Bel Air, Maryland, climbed the fence and was was apprehended on the North Lawn by uniformed Secret Service agents and dogs.

Redskins Quarterback Carousel

The Redskins 2014 season will be remembered as the year of the quarterback carousel, with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy all being benched for the backup at one point or another.

It was RGIII’s job to lose entering the season, but a dislocated left ankle suffered in the Redskins home-opener, which would keep Griffin sidelined for six games, left the door open for Cousins, who’d long awaited the opportunity to prove himself as a capable starter since being selected in the same draft as Griffin in 2012.

Cousins rose to the occasion in his first start, but quickly reverted by Week 4. It took him five starts to prove he couldn’t efficiently manage the offense, throwing eight interceptions in one four-game stretch.

By Week 9, it was Colt McCoy’s turn, and he too immediately accepted the challenge and ran with it, leading Washington to a 20-17 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football in his first start.

A healthy Griffin would force McCoy into the background the following week, but after three games of ineffective play by Griffin, Gruden made the tough decision to bench the franchise quarterback, his second time being sat for poor play in as many seasons.

Nationals, Orioles Both Make the Playoffs

D.C. and Baltimore baseball fans were ecstatic this year, as the Orioles clinched the AL East championship for the first time since 1997 and the Nationals became NL East champs for the second time in three years.

The idea of a “Beltway World Series” was even tossed around.

Sadly, the Nats lost the five-game National League Division Series with three one-run wins by the Giants (who went on to win the World Series).

The Orioles missed being named American League champions when they were swept by the Kansas City Royals.

Attitudes About Marijuana Change in D.C. and Maryland

In April, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state. That bill took effect Oct. 1.

In July, D.C.’s decriminalization law took effect. It replaced criminal penalties for possession of one ounce of pot with a $25 civil fine, one of the lowest in the country.

Initiative 71, D.C.’s pot legalization bill, was passed by about 64 percent of District voters during the Nov. 4 election.

However, the future of marijuana in D.C. is still unclear. On Dec. 16, Pres. Obama signed a spending deal to fund the government through Sept. 2015. That spending bill also “prohibits both federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District.

Meanwhile, the District’s delegate to Congress isn’t so sure that the spending bill’s language about marijuana legalization in the District means what everyone thinks it means.

“When the initiative was passed it was already enacted,” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton says. It’s her belief that Initiative 71 is still the law of the land.

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