On August 24, 2009, the world was shocked to learn Jaycee Lee Dugard's story. Police said Dugard, kidnapped at age 11, spent 18 years as a captive in a sex offender's yard. Officials say Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy abducted and raped Dugard and kept her imprisoned in the backyard compound, shielded from the world by trees, tarps, tents and tool sheds.
Five days before her wedding, Yale graduate student Annie Le vanished. On Sept. 13, 2009, the 24-year-old's mangled body was found behind the wall of the Yale laboratory where she worked. It was her wedding day. Raymond Clark III, a 24-year-old lab technician who worked in the same building, was charged with her murder. Police still have no motive.
The body of swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore was found stuffed in a suitcase in a California trash bin on Aug. 15, 2009. The tips of her fingers and teeth were removed. The 28-year-old's remains were identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. Her husband, reality TV contestant Ryan Jenkins, was charged with her murder but went on the run and later committed suicide in a Canadian motel.
On Oct. 29, 2009, police entered convicted sex offender Anthony Sowell's Cleveland home to arrest him for an alleged rape. They were hit with a horrid stench that had permeated the neighborhood for years. What they found was worse - 11 women's rotting bodies, one was only a skull. Some of the victims had been missing more than a year. He pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape and corpse abuse.
Shaniya Davis, 5, was reported missing by her mother, Antoinette Davis, Nov. 10, 2009. A horrifying surveillance video showed a man carrying the girl in a North Carolina hotel. Searchers soon found her body amongst deer carcasses and trash. Police say Antoinette Davis sold her daughter for sex. They charged her with human trafficking. Mario Andrette McNeill, the man in the video, was charged with her rape and murder.
In an online profile, Missouri teen Alyssa Bustamante listed "killing people" as a hobby. Police say on Oct. 21, 2009, the 15-year-old strangled, stabbed and cut the throat of her 9-year-old next-door neighbor Elizabeth Olten because she wanted to know what it felt like. Disturbing Facebook photos showed the previously suicidal teen appearing deranged. Bustamante was charged as an adult with first-degree murder.
By all accounts, Philip Markoff was a promising 23-year-old medical student at Boston University who was about to be married. But police say he had a dark alter ego, who used Craigslist to lure women to hotel rooms and rob them by gunpoint. Aspiring model Julissa Brisman, 25, never made it out of the Boston Marriot hotel where police say the "Craigslist Killer" shot and killed her on April 14, 2009.
On Oct 1, 2009, David Letterman shocked his audience when he admitted past sexual affairs with women who had worked on the "Late Show," and that he was being extorted by a man threatening to out him. CBS News producer Robert Halderman was charged with blackmailing the comedian for $2 million. Halderman -- who discovered his girlfriend's affair with Letterman -- said he was simply shopping him a screenplay.
George Sodini walked into a Pennsylvania health club on Aug. 4, 2009, shut off the lights, pulled out two guns, calmly fired into a crowd of women, and then killed himself, according to police. Three women died and nine others were injured during his rampage. Sodini left behind a twisted website and two YouTube videos that show he was embittered by his decades-long inability to attract the opposite sex.
Byrd and Melanie Billings
Byrd and Melanie Billings, a Florida couple who raised 16 children, 12 of them adopted with special needs, were murdered in their bedroom on July 9, 2009. Police say seven men raided the house in a military-style attack, dressed in ninja garb. The alleged motive was robbery, but they missed a safe with $164,000. None of the children were hurt, but authorities believe at least one of them had to witness the murders.
Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has been a wanted man since 1978, when he fled America on the verge of sentencing for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. For 30 years, he lived freely in Europe, but on Sept. 26, 2009, Swiss authorities arrested him. He is now under house arrest pending a Swiss court's decision to extradite him to the U.S. His victim, Samantha Geimer, has said she hopes he goes free.
On Dec. 4, 2009, American student Amanda Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, where they both studied. Knox was sentenced to 26 years. Her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was given 25. Prosecutors claimed that the murder was part of a sex-game gone wrong, but there was little physical evidence to support their theory. Knox maintains her innocence.
On July 4, 2009, former NFL great Steve McNair was found shot dead in his apartment in Nashville, Tenn., along with his mistress, 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi. Police say Kazemi was growing increasingly impatient and jealous of McNair, who wasn't leaving his wife or his other alleged mistress. Kazemi's family has said she was happy before her death and don't believe she killed McNair or herself.
Nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews made their way to the Internet this year. Andrews was the victim of 48-year-old insurance executive Michael Barrett, who admitted taping Andrews through hotel peepholes as she traveled across the country to cover sporting events. Barrett than posted the videos online and then tried to sell them. He faces 27 months in federal prison.
Former boxing champ Arturo Gatti was found dead in a Brazilian hotel room on July 11, 2009. Police first said he was hit in the head and strangled. A bloody purse strap was found on the floor. They arrested his wife, exotic dancer Amanda Rodrigues, 23, but later released her after they ruled his death a suicide. Gatti's family doesn't believe it. A will, updated a month before his death, left his estate to Rodrigues.
Susan Finkelstein loves the Philadelphia Phillies so much that police say the 43-year-old public relations worker used Craigslist to offer sex for World Series tickets. An undercover officer says she offered sex acts with him and his brother in exchange for two seats. Finkelstein says she was just flirting and the tickets were for her husband. She faces a January trial for prostitution.
Fifteen-year-old Michael Brewer was doused with rubbing alcohol and allegedly set on fire by a group of his peers in South Florida. The attack occurred Oct. 12, 2009, and caused burns on about 65 percent of Brewer's body. A horrifying 911 call captured his agony as he burned. Three teens have been charged with aggravated battery. Authorities say they were retaliating in an escalating dispute over a video game.
A domestic terrorist couldn't have picked a better target than the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. On Nov. 5, 2009, 13 were people were killed and 30 wounded in a shooting that police believe was perpetrated by Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan. Civilian police officers shot the American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, who is now paralyzed below the waist and awaiting trial.
Dr. George Tiller
Dr. George Tiller, whose clinic had long come under fire for providing late-term abortions, was shot and killed while serving as an usher in his church in Wichita, Kan., on May 31, 2009. Scott Roeder, 51, who was charged with the murder, confessed to reporters that he shot Tiller because he was defending the innocent lives of "preborn babies." Shortly after Tiller's death, his clinic was shuttered.
Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant, swears he didn't kill his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and had nothing to do with his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson's, disappearance. The 55-year-old made the talk show rounds to plead his case, but now will have to convince a jury he didn't drown Savio in a bathtub in 2004. He is jailed on $20 million bond and is awaiting trial for murder.