Metro

Gangsters, sharks, and politics: The 2018 stories subscribers read most on BostonGlobe.com

From left to right, top to bottom: Former mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, Peter DeMarco and Laura Levis, Senator Elizabeth Warren, The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tagged a shark, and Chris Sale screamed "let's go" to Red Sox  teammates in the dugout.
From left to right, top to bottom: Former mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, Peter DeMarco and Laura Levis, Senator Elizabeth Warren, The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tagged a shark, and Chris Sale screamed "let's go" to Red Sox teammates in the dugout.

2018 was a jam-packed news year — just look at all that happened in the world of politics. But if you think the news was all President Trump, all the time, think again. We ran the numbers on what stories published on BostonGlobe.com were most popular among our subscribers over the past year and what we found was a mix. You all gobbled up our politics coverage, sure, but you also gravitated toward stories about gangsters and sharks, and even your feet (yes, your feet). Take a look at the top 10 stories subscribers clicked on most.

1. Losing Laura

Peter DeMarco’s tragic account of the death of his wife, Laura Levis, after an asthma attack. In September 2016, Levis suffered a severe attack and arrived at the hospital on foot, only to find the doors of the emergency room locked. She called 911 but collapsed before emergency crews could find her on a bench outside the hospital. DeMarco told the tale of what happened — and why — in his own words:

Laura Levis during a raspberry picking trip to Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury in 2010.
Laura Levis during a raspberry picking trip to Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury in 2010.

MY NAME IS Peter DeMarco, and I am Laura’s husband. And I didn’t know any of this.

Advertisement

When I finally arrived at the emergency room that morning, I was told that Laura never made it there. That she collapsed on a street leading to CHA Somerville Hospital, or possibly in a parking lot on the outskirts of the property. No one in the emergency room could tell me the full story, as there had been a shift change at 7 a.m., and everyone who’d treated her was gone. All they knew was that my wife had called 911 just after 4 a.m., before she lost consciousness, but she wasn’t able to give her exact location.

2. ‘Whitey’ Bulger dead: Inmate with mafia ties investigated in killing

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Within hours of his arrival at a federal prison in West Virginia, gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was beaten to death by inmates in an attack that marked the final, brutal chapter in the life of one of Boston’s most notorious villains.

The freshly dug up dirt was pictured in front of a headstone where James “Whitey” Bulger was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff/file
The freshly dug up dirt was pictured in front of a headstone where James “Whitey” Bulger was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery.

Two inmates were under investigation in the attack, including Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 51, a West Springfield Mafia hit man serving a life sentence for the 2003 slaying of the leader of the Genovese crime family in Springfield, according to several people briefed on the attack. The men were captured on video surveillance entering Bulger’s cell around 6 a.m., according to one of the people. It was about two hours later that Bulger was found beaten, with his eyes nearly gouged out, the people said.

3. Revere man killed in shark attack at Wellfleet beach

A 26-year-old man from Revere died from a shark attack in September in the waters off Wellfleet, the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts in more than 80 years and only the fourth recorded in state history.

A memorial remain at Newcomb Hollow Beach for shark attack victim, Arthur Medici who was killed by a shark while on his boogie board at Newcomb Hollow Beach.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/file
A memorial remained at Newcomb Hollow Beach for shark attack victim Arthur Medici, who was killed by a shark while on his boogie board.

The death came after increasing numbers of shark sightings and warnings about the danger of the predators off Cape Cod waters this summer, and followed an attack on Aug. 15 that severely injured a 61-year-old New York man.

Advertisement

The man, identified as Arthur Medici, was boogie boarding about 300 yards south of Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet when a shark attacked him around 12:15 p.m., according to authorities.

4. An Airbnb guesthouse of horrors

Jaleesa Jackson and Chiedozie Uwandu headed out of town in June for a week of rest and relaxation in Southern California.

They figured traveling 3,000 miles to lounge on the beach would allow them to unwind. So they found a small guesthouse in Los Angeles on Airbnb. It had excellent reviews and a host who had so impressed Airbnb that the popular short-term rental company had ranked him one of its best — a “super host.” When the couple arrived, they found a chilled bottle of wine and a welcoming note from JJ, the host.

He asked if everything was satisfactory. It was, until the nightmare began.

5. Elizabeth Warren releases results of DNA test

In October, Senator Elizabeth Warren released a DNA test on her Native American ancestry, an unprecedented move by one of the top possible contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. Warren, whose claims to Native American blood have been mocked by President Trump and other Republicans, provided the test results to the Globe in an effort to defuse questions about her ancestry that have persisted for years.

Senator Elizabeth Warren.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Image/file
Senator Elizabeth Warren.

6. Top spots to live in Greater Boston in 2018

Advertisement

Boston’s housing market, fueled by strong economic growth, has been blisteringly hot the past few years — and nearby towns and cities are basking in the warmth and glow. With few exceptions, communities in or near Boston have seen Massachusetts’ biggest gains in median home prices between 2012 and 2017, even in already expensive markets like Brookline and Cambridge. The Boston real estate bonfire has now spread to once-affordable pockets of the city like Southie and Roslindale, and gateway cities like Lynn, Lawrence, and Brockton.

“Real estate is about jobs,” says Timothy Warren, CEO of the real estate market tracking firm The Warren Group in Boston, which also publishes Banker & Tradesman. “Just being close to the Seaport and Kendall Square and these centers of good-paying jobs, that makes a big difference.” No surprise, then, that all 12 of this year’s hot communities offer subway or commuter rail service to the city and its jobs.

7. Chris Sale and the dugout outburst that lit a fire under the Red Sox

As the Red Sox fell further and further behind the Dodgers, as the 2-0 World Series lead that had brought them across the country on such a high they barely needed the plane to get here was suddenly barreling toward a 2-2 tie, as Yasiel Puig’s titanic home run left starter Eduardo Rodriguez slamming his glove to the ground (before picking it up on his way out of the game), Chris Sale had had enough.

After the Dodgers’ four-run sixth inning was over, Chris Sale screamed "let's go" to teammates in the dugout.
Jim Davis/Globe staff/file
After the Dodgers’ four-run sixth inning was over, Chris Sale screamed "let's go" to teammates in the dugout.

Enough bad at-bats. Enough mistake pitches. Enough errant throws.

So as the Sox convened in their dugout after the Dodgers finally broke through in a taut, tense Game 4 with a four-run sixth inning, Sale, the team’s ace pitcher, let his teammates know it.

8. This foot condition is the new back pain — it’s everywhere

A spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association says the condition has reached “almost epidemic” levels.

The chief of podiatric reconstructive foot surgery at New England Baptist Hospital goes further: “It’s an epidemic.”

It’s become so common — with millions of sufferers — that it’s safe to call it the new bad back.

And yet, as medical conditions go, plantar fasciitis has no cachet. Many hear the name and think “plantar wart,” not “what are these intense stabbing pains in my heel?” or “why does my arch feel bruised?” or “how come I’m limping?”

There certainly aren’t any big fund-raising walks.

If plantar fasciitis has come for you — or a loved one or friend or colleague — you know this to be true: It’s persistent (attacks can stretch on for a year, and be so painful walking feels nearly impossible). And not unlike Taylor Swift, the affliction has a wide and diverse base; it afflicts skinny runners and plump couch potatoes alike.

9. Man dies after woman allegedly drove truck into N.H. couple walking dog

Finally, the VanDalindas were going to find peace, after nearly two years of toxic encounters with next-door neighbor Catrina Costello, who, court records show, had threatened and sworn at the couple, and whose pit bulls had once attacked the family dog.

Stephen and Erin VanDalinda had recently found a buyer for their home of nearly two decades on Greenleaf Drive and had stationed a portable storage container in the driveway to get them ready to move north to Raymond, N.H.

But as the couple walked their German shepherd, Lucy, Wednesday at about 6:20 p.m. on a nearby street, authorities allege, an intoxicated Costello, 38, mowed them down with her silver pickup truck, killing Stephen VanDalinda, 64, and seriously injuring his 61-year-old wife. Their dog was also killed, prosecutors said.

10. 8 killings, 11 days, and the last to die was Alicia

Alicia Restrepo knew this was the wrong time to have a baby. She was 24, living in hotel rooms, in love with a man with a dangerous past, and keeping her own secrets.

But sometimes, friends said, she let herself imagine it. Maybe her boyfriend, Robert, would weep when he held their child for the first time. Maybe her mother would be so overjoyed that she would finally forgive her daughter for all her mistakes. Or maybe, as Alicia’s belly swelled, she would simply pack up and take off, head for Florida, just her and the baby. Maybe they would make a new life far away in the heat and the light.

Alicia Restrepo.
WBZ-TV
Alicia Restrepo.

It was a fantasy.

And so Alicia was sitting in the passenger seat of her white BMW on Charles Street in Dorchester on Oct. 15, just past 9:30 p.m., when the shooting started. Seven blasts, a neighbor guessed, close together. An explosion of shattering glass. The bullets tore through her torso and right leg, and she slumped in her seat.