Melissa Jenkins, a popular teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy, went to help a couple who said their car had broken down and ended up being killed in a crime that prosecutors say Allen Prue and his wife Patricia Prue committed for their idea of fun.
Police said the Waterford couple got the idea "to get a girl" and planned the crime, buying a stun gun and prepaid cellphone before driving to Jenkins' home and then to a dam in Barnet where her body was dumped. The story tied for fifth place with Stenger's economic development projects.
Vermont Democrats came in seventh in this survey after coming in first just about everywhere else. From national networks again announcing Vermont as the first state to support President Barack Obama, to the party's expansion of its already big majority in the Vermont House, 2012 was a banner year for the state's Democrats. Their candidate for lieutenant governor lost, but even Cassandra Gekes but got more votes than the Republican candidate for governor, Sen. Randy Brock.
Eighth was the mental health reorganization. Irene forced something state officials had talked of doing for decades: closing the antiquated Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. That set up a crisis with mentally ill people being held in hospital emergency rooms, sometimes for days at a time, while the state scrambled to reorganize its mental health system. The result: a more geographically dispersed set of mental health services, with a new, smaller hospital to be built in Berlin next year.
The last two of the Top 10 tied in the scoring.
One concerned charges that veteran Vermont State Police Sgt. James Deeghan padded his time sheets, in part by filing, in 12 years, 1,000 traffic tickets that he never gave to a motorist or the state traffic bureau. Deeghan resigned July 10. He has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges that he claimed 63 hours of overtime in June that he didn't work.
The other was the news about trouble in dairy land. Farmers were hit with rising costs, low milk prices and a failure by Congress to reauthorize the farm bill, leading to dissolution of a key price-support program.