By MELINDA KRICK

Progress Editor


What stories captured readers’ attention during 2016?

Listed below are the top 10 most-viewed stories read on the Progress website, www.progressnewspaper.org, during the past year. The number of pageviews was calculated by Google Analytics.

The total number of pageviews was current as of Dec. 31, 2016.

During the calendar year, our website received 246,771 visits with 523,217 pageviews – the most since we first launched our website and the first time over half a million.

The website won first place for Best Group Website from Ohio Newspaper Association for the period Aug. 1, 2015-July 31, 2016.

The number of visits increased by 21 percent over the previous year, while the number of pageviews jumped 31 percent.

The peak number of visits on a single day was 10,225 on Feb. 10. That same day, our website had its biggest number of pageviews with 16,546.

Mobile website access to the Progress website continues to increase. Mobile and tablet usage now accounts for an average of 66 percent of visits, up slightly from 61 percent during 2015.

Most of the top stories were breaking news, published prior to the regular Wednesday publication date of the Progress. All but two of the top 10 were related to homicides in the first quarter of 2016. The stories spanned the entire year, from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.

Please visit our website to view stories in their entirety.

We’ve posted a slideshow of the year’s events as reflected on Page One for the past 12 months. Look for “Slideshow – 2016: The Year in Progress Front Pages” under the News section.



10. Special grand jury returns murder indictment

Pageviews: 4,040 Date Posted: March 29

Writer: Melinda Krick

PAULDING – A special grand jury met Monday and returned two murder indictments against a Defiance County man in connection with the deaths of two Paulding residents.

Bradley R. Gillespie, age 42, of Defiance, is accused in the homicides of Hannah Fischer and Frank Tracy Jr. Prosecutor Joseph Burkard said the two-count indictment is for murder with a gun classification and is an unclassified felony.

The grand jury did not return a specification for a death penalty, Burkard said. If further evidence is uncovered that would support the specification, the charges could be amended later.



9. Two injured, one critically, in crash Monday evening

Pageviews: 4,574 Date Posted: April 26

HAVILAND – The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Van Wert Post is investigating a serious injury crash that occurred at 9:53 p.m. Monday, April 25 on Ohio 114, east of Haviland.

A 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, driven by James A. Lewis, 51, of Haviland, was traveling westbound on 114. A John Deere tractor, pulling a trailer, driven by Evan C. Klopfenstein, 24, of Haviland, was also traveling westbound. The car struck the rear of Klopfenstein’s trailer.



8. Suspect in Florida killings charged with first degree murder

Pageviews 5,205 Date Posted: Jan. 25

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Law enforcement officials said Monday they believe Jacob Rex Langston had murder on his mind when he confronted Elbert L. Merrick III outside of the home at 179 Peoria Boulevard in Crestview on Saturday morning.

State Attorney Bill Eddins and Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor said at an afternoon press conference that Langston planned to kill not only 22-year-old Merrick, who was dating his former girlfriend, but also Shanna McGrath, his 42-year-old mother, and Kevin McGrath, his 47-year-old stepfather.

Langston, 22, on Monday was charged with first degree premeditated murder in all three killings.



7. Victim’s name released

Pageviews 5,481 Date Posted: Feb. 11

Writer: Melinda Krick

PAULDING – Paulding Police Department has identified a body found at a crime scene earlier this week.

According to a press release issued Thursday, Paulding Police Department was called to 119 W. Perry St., Apt. C, in Paulding at approximately 4:56 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9. It was reported to officers of the Paulding Police Department and the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office that a body was discovered inside the apartment. Officers found Hannah Fischer, age 21, was deceased.

Agents from Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations were contacted to process the scene.



6. Gillespie pleads not guilty in homicides

Pageviews: 5,746 Date Posted: April 1

Writers: Joe Shouse and Melinda Krick

PAULDING – On Thursday afternoon, Bradley R. Gillespie was arraigned in Paulding County Common Pleas Court.

Accused in the double homicide of Hannah Fischer and Frank Tracy Jr., Gillespie was escorted into the courtroom by three county deputies following a 50-minute delay.

With the gallery area filled with onlookers, Gillespie, 42, of Defiance, made his way to a long table, where he met with his court-appointed lawyer. The accused entered pleas of not guilty.



5. Paulding couple among victims of triple homicide in Florida

Pageviews: 7,070 Date Posted: Jan. 25

CRESTVIEW, Fla. – Police in Crestview, Fla. are currently investigating a shooting incident that resulted in three deaths and a fourth person seriously injured. Two of the dead are originally from Paulding.

Officers were dispatched to the area of Peoria Drive in Crestview’s Sandy Ridge Subdivision shortly before 10:45 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, in reference to a shooting incident.

The deceased have been identified as Kevin T. McGrath Sr. 47, and Shanna L. McGrath, 42, husband and wife, who owned the residence located at 179 Peoria Boulevard.



4. Hospital being sued by former physician

Pageviews: 7,412 Date Posted: April 20

PAULDING – A long-time county physician has filed a complaint against the Paulding County Hospital. He is seeking compensation for damages and a declaratory judgment on issues dealing with an alleged breach of contract.

Dr. James H. Gray, who is one of two board-certified osteopathic primary care physicians in the Paulding County, established his practice in the county in 1985. In 2010, he entered an agreement with the hospital making him one of their employees.

The lawsuit states the hospital board terminated Gray’s five-year contract 29 days before it was complete and he was put on “involuntary vacation” immediately. Documents further state the doctor was barred from his office building in Antwerp and locks on the doors were changed in spite of the fact Gray owns the property.

Dr. Gray is asking the Paulding County Common Pleas Court for a judgment against the hospital in an amount over $25,000 for “rent, lost income and other damages.”



3. Body found near Antwerp; sheriff’s office investigating as homicide

Pageviews: 8,580 Date Posted: March 14

ANTWERP – Deputies were called to 10488 Road 1 at 10:38 a.m. southwest of Antwerp today, March 14 for a report of a dead body lying in a yard. Construction workers arrived at the residence, which is abandoned, to tear down a garage when the found the body in the grass.

“The body is a middle-aged female and she did not have any identification on her. This is being treated as a homicide,” said Sheriff Jason K. Landers. “Agents with the Attorney General’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit were on scene to assist my staff with processing potential evidence, as well as making identification of the deceased.

“We brought in our partners from Allen County, Indiana, as a resource due to the geographic location of this scene, as we do not have any missing females reported here,” said Sheriff Landers. “It appears the deceased had been there for several hours.”



2. Body ID’d as murder suspect Frank Tracy Jr.

Pageviews: 8,848 Date Posted: March 18

Writer: Melinda Krick

PAULDING – The search for a Paulding man wanted for murder has ended as authorities announced the identity of a body found Tuesday evening at an area cemetery.

In a press released issued at 11:20 a.m. Friday, March 18, Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers confirmed the remains found at Rochester Cemetery near Cecil as Frank H. Tracy Jr., age 47.

Preliminary results on the cause of death were also released by Paulding County Coroner Joseph Kuhn. According to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, where Paulding County’s autopsies are conducted, Tracy was killed by a single gunshot to the head, with the manner of death being homicide.



1. Paulding police respond to possible crime scene

Pageviews: 15,080 Date Posted: Feb. 10

Writer: Melinda Krick

PAULDING – Paulding Police Department reportedly is investigating an incident that may have left at least one person dead on Tuesday.

The police have declined to release any information.

Records indicate that Paulding County Sheriff’s deputies were called to assist Paulding police at a West Perry Street apartment in downtown Paulding at 4:56 p.m. Feb. 9. County Coroner Dr. Joseph Kuhn was on scene a short time later.



Other top stories for 2016:

11. One dead, one injured in crash near Arthur

Pageviews: 3,580 Date Posted: June 26

12. Police releasing few facts in homicide

Pageviews: 3,206 Date Posted: Feb. 23

13. Authorities identify body of woman found Monday

Pageviews: 2,897 Date Posted: March 14

14. Paulding police issue arrest warrant for murder suspect

Pageviews: 2,763 Date Posted: Feb. 12

15. Jury acquits Noffsinger

Pageviews: 2,350 Date Posted: May 1, 2015

16. Suspect still at large in homicide

Pageviews: 2,117 Date Posted: Feb. 16

17. Man’s body discovered in Rochester Cemetery

Pageviews: 1,986 Date Posted: March 16

18. Local calendar of events 2016

Pageviews: 1,908 Date Posted: Jan. 14

19. One dead, one injured in crash

Pageviews: 1,804 Date Posted: Jan. 31

20. Victim’s mom: ‘I just want justice for Hannah’

Pageviews: 1,711 Date Posted: Feb. 26