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THE WEEK'S MOST-READ STORIES: Possible wolf found in Mo., Homecoming proposal, Hurricane Sandy

Sunday, November 4, 2012 | 8:04 p.m. CST; updated 8:09 p.m. CST, Sunday, November 4, 2012

A hunter in Howard County shot what appears to be a wolf while archery hunting for deer and coyotes Tuesday at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Franklin Island Conservation Area. The department has sent the animal's DNA to an out-of-state lab for analysis to determine the species and possibly its place of origin. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION)

COLUMBIA — Missourian readers seemed to have developed a hankering for the unusual this week, if page views are any indication. 

This week's top story was the bizarre shooting of an animal on Halloween that could likely be a wolf in Howard County. In second place was a story of a Homecoming marriage proposal that would be tough to out-do. Hurricane Sandy showed up twice in the top 10, and stories about the source of Missouri basketball player Alex Oriakhi's smile and quarterback James Franklin's secret "ligament juice" were also popular.

Here's a look at the top 10 most popular stories published this past week on ColumbiaMissourian.com, according to Google Analytics.

1. Readers were fascinated when a hunter in Howard County shot a possible wolf at Franklin Island Conservation Area on Halloween. The species has not lived in Missouri since the end of the 19th Century. Missouri Department of Conservation biologists are analyzing the animal, which the hunter thought at first was a plus-sized coyote. The Conservation Department will send DNA samples to laboratories in northern states for identification because it has none for comparison. Page views: 1,809.

2. A typical college romance led to a not-so-typical engagement during MU's Homecoming Parade on Oct. 27. Marching Mizzou band members surrounded Michael Moss as he got down on one knee and asked his girlfriend, Bree Dunn, to marry him. The band sang a rendition of "Hey Baby" that went, "Hey Bree, I wanna know if you'll be my bride." Moss said he was inspired to pull off this romantic feat by his older brothers, whose engagement stories he wanted to top. Page views: 1,421.

3. Readers were curious about the latest update in the legal aftermath of the murder of a Columbia Tribune sports editor 11 years ago. In 2005, Ryan Ferguson was convicted of the murder of Kent Heitholt, 48, who was found dead outside the Tribune on Nov. 1, 2001. On Oct. 31, a Cole County circuit judge denied Ferguson the new trial he had petitioned for after his co-defendent, Chuck Erickson, recanted his 2005 statement linking Ferguson to the murder. Ferguson's father said his son's defense team is now preparing to appeal to the Western District Court of Appeals. Page views: 1,390.

4. On Oct. 29, Missourian reporters spoke to eight people in Hurricane Sandy's path as it raged its way up the East Coast. Most residents had prepared their homes, businesses and minds for the storm and had nothing to do but hunker down and wait for it to pass. Page views: 1,248.

5. Readers were curious about what's behind new Missouri basketball player Alex Oriakhi's trademark smile. After the former UConn basketball player saw his team go from No. 4 in the nation to unranked, he was ready for a change. Oriakhi transferred to Missouri in April after some deliberation over which team he would join. What persuaded him to come to Missouri, he said, is the team's camaraderie. Page views: 1,181.

6. Readers wanted the details about a two-alarm fire that damaged four businesses on Business Loop 70 on Oct. 31. Shortly after 9 p.m., the Columbia Fire Department responded to a structure fire at Loop 70 Auto Parts. Fire crews had the blaze in control within 15 minutes, but smoke damaged three nearby businesses: Wireless House, Ennis Appliance Center and Carlito's Cabo. Page views: 926.

7. Missouri quarterback James Franklin says he eschews drugs, alcohol and and even medicine. When he's sick, he relies on water, soup and sleep, he says. But after spraining a ligament in his left knee during Missouri's game against Vanderbilt, he's relying on a secret remedy, which he calls "ligament juice." But he won't share its formula with anyone — not with his teammates, not with his coaches and certainly not with reporters. Page views: 802.

8. On Oct. 30, the AP reported that damage from Hurricane Sandy could add up to $20 billion in destroyed property and between $10 billion and $30 billion in lost business. Money spent during the recovering and rebuilding effort could help off-set this blow to the economy, though. Page views: 764.

9. Readers checked out this voters guide to the three candidates on the ballot for Missouri's U.S. Senate seat: Democrat Claire McCaskill, Republican Todd Akin and Libertarian Jonathan Dine. The guide contains statements from each candidate on prominent issues facing the country, along with analysis from local experts. Page views: 747.

10. Another voters guide attracted attention this week, this one for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The Missourian aggregated statements from President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and combined them with analysis from independent sources. Page views: 741.


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