Patch's Greatest Hits of 2011

A look back at the most popular stories of the year. Thanks for reading.

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  1. Good Lord, that's a lot of traffic. The author's controversial comments on the shifting nature of the publishing business went viral, then provoked a few commenters who sharply disagreed with Turow's criticism. 
  2. This one began with a posting to our Facebook page, where a resident alerted the community to the disappearance of Jassen Strokosch, a well respected local parent. An intense communitywide search followed, and, luckily for everyone involved, he's back safely. More on that later...
  3. Listening to the police scanner can be equal parts mundane and nauseating. Unless you're a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or reporter, you're not really hearing the constant crackle of local emergencies, both large and small. On this hot summer night, the scanner chatter became loud and rushed — typically a sign that something's up. In this case, it was a murder for hire in which 29-year-old Chervon Alexander was gunned down in a River Forest parking lot.

  4. Days after the Alexander shooting, investigators revealed some stunning details about the case: That Devin Bickham Sr., a former North Chicago police officer, had allegedly paid an accomplice $400 to carry out the hit on his girlfriend, Chervon Alexander, an aspiring law enforcement officer. 
  5. We'd heard some chatter about Strokosch's safe return. After making a few calls we had the news confirmed, then published the happy ending to this brief, but captivating, local story.  
  6. Intrepid Patch Deb Kadin contributor pursued a tip about a plan by Oak Pk Park officials that would limit gun ownership on the basis that owning a firearm endangers the greater public health. A couple dozen pro-gun commenters weighed in while the story made its way throughout Oak Park and onto firearm-themed message boards across the country. 
  7. Yet another major story that began with observations on social media. In this case, we saw a few incoming Tweets saying Madison Street smelled like smoke. Someone else tweeted they thought Skrine Chops had burned overnight. Sure enough, it did. The cause, though never officially revealed, is believed to be a lightning strike, the likely result of a quickly moving overnight summer storm. (Forest Park Review reports the restaurant is making a comeback, and the owners hope to reopen in spring 2012.)

  8. The headline sort of says it all. Residents were on the lookout for a man who looked like "Owen Wilson without the crooked nose," accused of trading phony coupons for real discounts at Oak Park stores. And witnesses to the crimes were right: The resemblance is uncanny. 
  9. Day 2 of our coverage in the disappearance was bolstered by social media and articles from local news outlets. 
  10. A 17-year-old Oak Parker was charged with trying to run a coke and pot ring out of a Harrison Street apartment. Recovered at the apartment were a .40-caliber handgun, ammunition and two safes containing 126 grams of marijuana, 29.7 grams of cocaine, $1,000 in cash, a money counting machine and scales, authorities said. 
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