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MURRIETA: Top Stories of 2011

The city sees its first homicides in nearly two years and is threatened by a nearby 400-plus acre fire, but there were also several bright spots--like celebrating the city's 20th birthday.

Two unexplainable homicides rocked Murrieta late in 2011, but the community saw some brighter spots with the completion of the improved Clinton Keith interchange along with the addition of the state-of-the-art Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta--plus the sweet story of just one of many Military families reunited. To top the year off, Vista Murrieta football takes its first division title.

TOP STORY:

When an off-duty sheriff's in a local pub, the story shocks readers from near and far. The homicide was the second in two days in the city of Murrieta, which hadn't had a reported homicide in nearly two years.

COMMUNITY IN SHOCK:

"People need to stay indoors," police warned on Dec. 20, after a stabbing suspect William Gary Simpson Jr. evades capture the morning after he allegedly takes the life of in her family home, seriously wounding two others.

SURPRISE HOMECOMING:

Marine Sgt. Joey Jones returns from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East, and allows Tovashal Elementary to share in his joyful reunion with his 7-year-old son, Domenik.

FIRE THREATENS CITY:

Flames consume 458 acres of grass Aug. 29 just north and east of Murrieta city limits. Fire crews from Murrieta, Riverside County and Corona were called in. The fire was ignited when someone was metal scrapping, authorities determined.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS:

the Broncos come back to win their first CIF-Southern Section Inland Division championship.

TEACHER DRAWS SUPPORT:

When longtime P.E. teacher Tim Tahti is transferred from Shivela Middle School,

NEW HOSPITAL:

After holding a in February, opened its doors April 15 to patients in southwest Riverside County. The hospital was built in record time, officials said.

CLINTON KEITH INTERCHANGE:

Planned since 1998 and the improved, $25 million Clinton Keith/Interstate 215 interchange opened to through traffic Aug. 1.

MURRIETA TURNS 20:

The city of Murrieta threw its biggest bash ever to celebrate its beginnings to where it is now as the largest city in southwest Riverside County.

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