Megachurch mysteries, ballpark brawls and all the in-between: These are the KPRC 2 stories that captivated readers most in 2021

We’re looking back on the Houston-area stories that drew the most readers this year.

The most-read stories of 2021 (KPRC 2)

Of the thousands of stories published on Click2Houston.com in 2021, these are the ones that you read, shared and discussed the most.

The stories run the gamut, but, unsurprisingly, our articles about two topics in particular – COVID-19 and February’s devastating winter storm – were among the most widely read. Here’s a selection of those stories, and several others that drew your interest this year.

February’s deep freeze and blackout

This half-hour special program offers an in-depth look at events surrounding the widespread and dangerous power outages that brought much of our state to a halt in February 2021.

Unsurprisingly, several of the top 25 most-read stories on Click 2 in 2021 were about February’s historic deep freeze and the subsequent statewide blackout which left hundreds of Texans dead and millions of others without heat, water and electricity. Our power outages blog was our most-read story of the year and several spots behind at No. 8 – our guide on what to do when your pipes freeze. Our article on water boil advisories, prompted by frozen pipes and low water pressure, trailed behind at No. 20.

Read the story: TIMELINE: Blog tracks power outages during winter storm

The tale of Byron the Maltipoo

The microchipped dog was found and adopted to another family instead of being returned to the owners

The months-spanning saga of a lost poodle mix named Byron captivated readers during the dog days of summer. The little dog’s story was our second-most read article of the year. After Byron got loose and lost on New Year’s Eve in 2019, he was brought to a shelter and adopted by another family – even though he had a microchip and desperate owners searching for him for months on end. The aforementioned owners, two Houston sisters, we’re devastated when they finally learned what had happened. Byron’s new family didn’t want to part with the Maltipoo and the rescue that facilitated Byron’s adoption wasn’t much help. After we published a story on the pair’s struggle to get back their beloved Byron, a comment on the article led the women to an area attorney who helped them get their dog back.

Read the story: ‘Many sleepless nights.’ 2 Houston sisters crushed after lost puppy adopted to another family despite being microchipped

Plumber solves megachurch mystery

A Houston plumber’s miraculous find was our third most-read story of the year. Some context: Back in 2014, $600,000 in checks and cash were stolen from a safe at Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. For seven years, the crime remained unsolved, until, in December 2021, a plumber tasked with fixing a leaky toilet made an unlikely discovery: 500 envelopes filled with cash and checks totaling – yes, you guessed it – $600,000. The plumber, who identified himself only as Justin, broke the story when he called a Houston radio station’s morning show and detailed his find during a segment about the most unusual things of value people have found. In a statement the same day, the church said it was assisting HPD with its revived investigation into the missing money. Justin the plumber was later awarded $20,000 for his role in solving the megachurch mystery.

Read the story: Plumber discovers money, checks in wall of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church years after $600K burglary

The pandemic

As the coronavirus spread across Texas in 2021, our readers spent considerable time perusing articles on the virus, the vaccine and the stimulus payments issued by the U.S. government in an attempt to counteract the pandemic’s impact on the economy. Readers really, really wanted to know where their stimulus checks were – our guidance on how to track stimulus payments was our fourth most-read article in 2021. They also wanted to know where to go to get a vaccine (No.6) and why so many people were convinced Disney’s 2010 film “Tangled” foresaw the pandemic (No. 12). Our coronavirus tracker was No. 19 on our list. Another coronavirus story of note: This article on a Woodlands teen diagnosed with Guillan-Barre syndrome several weeks after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The story was our seventh-most read piece of the year.

View our coronavirus coverage here.

Tesla crash kills two people

An NTSB report says surveillance video shows someone getting in the driver's seat before the deadly Tesla crash

At No. 5 is a story about a fiery Tesla crash that killed two men in The Woodlands in April. Neither of the victims were found in the driver’s seat, prompting local authorities to claim, at least initially, that the Tesla’s Autopilot was running at the time of the crash. During their investigation, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board determined that a driver was behind the wheel when the vehicle crashed.

Read the story: 2 men dead after fiery Tesla crash near The Woodlands, officials say

Gas gaffe strands Cypress drivers

The gas station was located on FM 529 near Barker Cypress Road

Our ninth most-read article was a story on stranded drivers outside Cypress. KPRC 2 spoke with at least five people who reported problems after going to the Exxon at the corner of FM 529 and Barker Cypress Road. Witnesses said some drivers couldn’t start up their vehicles at the gas station, while others were able to start up, but then stalled down the road.

Read the story: Several drivers stranded after filling up at Exxon gas station near Cypress

Houston mother killed in driveway ambush

At No.11, the story of a deadly driveway shooting in West Harris County. A woman returning home from her job at a gentlemen’s club was killed in mid-August when an unknown assailant shot into her vehicle some 50 times, authorities said. The woman, identified as Valeesha Duncan, 31, died in her driveway after exiting her car. Investigators determined an unknown gunman got out of a dark-colored sedan and fired upon Duncan as she was pulling into her garage, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. Duncan left behind a son. As of this writing, Duncan’s shooting death remains unsolved. Anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is encouraged to contact HCSO at (713) 274-9100 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at (713) 222-TIPS (8477) and share what they know.

Read the story: Mother dies after being shot at nearly 50 times while pulling into her garage, deputies say

The Astroworld Festival Tragedy

At least eight people are dead and several others were injured Friday night at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival at NRG Park, authorities said.

A beloved albeit defunct Houston theme park – Astroworld – will be forever linked with a historic mass-casualty crowd surge which claimed the lives of 10 young rap fans and left dozens of others seriously injured. Just over a month after rapper Travis Scott’s deadly Astroworld Festival, the number of lawsuits stemming from the tragedy continues to rise. A criminal investigation into the mass casualty event is ongoing. Click 2′s breaking news coverage on the tragedy is No. 15 on the list.

Read the story: Several dead, many others injured following fatal crowd surge Travis at Scott’s Astroworld Festival at NRG Park, officials say

Brawl at the ballpark

The Minute Maid melee in May is No. 16 on our list. On May 26, as the Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park, a brawl broke out between an Astros fan and a Dodgers fan. Videos of the violent episode show the Dodgers fan brutally pummeling the Astros fan until he was bloody. Meanwhile, the Dodgers fan’s small daughter sat screaming in a seat nearby. A witness said the Astros fan was the first to get physical. Ultimately, three men were issued citations for fighting in public and were banned from the ballpark for a year.

Read the story: HPD explains what happened after fight between fans broke out during Astros vs. Dodgers game at Minute Maid Park

Mom tackles teen accused of peeping into daughter’s window

In late January, police dashcam video captured the moment a Lake Jackson mom tackled a teen to the ground after she said she saw him peeping into her daughter’s window. The wild story reported first by KPRC 2 garnered national attention – it was our 18th most-read story of the year.

Read the story: Mom tackles man accused of peeking in daughter’s bedroom in Lake Jackson

The wild saga of India the Tiger

Carole Baskin offers $5,000 reward for tiger's return

On May 9, India the Tiger made her Houston debut when she was sighted prowling a west Houston neighborhood. At one point, the tiger encountered an armed off-duty Waller County sheriff’s deputy. In a video of the incident, the deputy is heard yelling at the tiger’s alleged owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, to get the animal off the streets. When officers arrived at the scene, Cuevas, who was out on bond for a murder charge at the time, put India in a white Jeep Cherokee and drove off, leading officers on a brief pursuit, before getting away. Cuevas was taken into police custody the following day, charged with evading arrest. Nearly a week later, Cuevas’ wife turned over the tiger to police. India was taken to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, an animal sanctuary southeast of Dallas. India’s saga is No. 20 on Click 2′s list of the most-read stories.

Read the story: Unusual sighting: Tiger spotted on front lawn of home in west Houston neighborhood

Good Samaritan on mission from God locates lost toddler

A Good Samaritan named Tim found Christopher Saturday morning.

In October, a Good Samaritan named Tim found missing toddler Christopher Ramirez, who had vanished from his Plantersville home four days prior. Tim said he was tasked by God to search for the 3-year-old, who had not been found despite a massive, days-long, multi-agency search for the boy. Two hours after Tim first trekked into the woods, he found little Christopher.

“There have been a lot of people out in this community praying for this little boy. Many had given up hope and the story is don’t give up hope and God’s still in the miracle business,” Tim said in October. “He’s still answering prayer.”

The inspiring tale came in at No. 23 on Click 2′s list of the year’s most-read stories.

Read the story: ‘God’s still in the miracle business’: Good Samaritan details how he found missing 3-year-old Christopher Ramirez

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.