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Federal agents stand outside the House of Prayer on Live Oak Road following a raid
Federal agents stand outside the House of Prayer on Live Oak Road following a raid there. Courier file photo

With 2023 here, we’ll take a look back at the top 10 stories of 2022 from

These stories received the most page views on the Courier website for the year.

Click on each headline to read the full story.

1. Federal agencies charge into House of Prayer.

FBI agents raided the House of Prayer on Airport Road on June 23, and former members previously had said the church was more like a cult than a church. They also alleged abuse and fraud regarding housing and veterans benefits.

2. Former members allege church is a cult

About 20 protestors gathered outside the House of Prayer Christian Church in May, claiming it was not a house of worship but a cult, and have posted their allegations on a website dedicated to that purpose. Ex-church members said church leader Rony Denis manipulated his followers and degraded women and children, but another member called the allegations “ridiculous.”

3. Affleck and Lopez to renew vows at actor’s home in Liberty

The entertainment world turned its attention to eastern Liberty County in August as Hampton Island resident Ben Affleck married longtime girlfriend and fellow star Jennifer Lopez in an extravagant affair at Affleck’s home. While the guest list was small, it brought no end of attention from international press who focus on celebrities.

4. Commissioner arrested for DUI

Liberty County District 2 Commissioner Justin Frasier was arrested and charged with driving under the influence by the Hinesville Police Department in early March. Frasier subsequently was re-elected to office for another term.

5. Splash Smash advance to quarterfinals

The Long County Blue Tide Super Smash Bros Ultimate team swept Putnam County High School to make the quarterfinals of the e-sports state playoffs. The state title eventually went to Westminster, which beat Landmark Christian 2-0 in the finals.

6. Long County authorities investigating couple’s deaths

Long County sheriff ’s deputies found the bodies of a Fort Stewart soldier and his wife at their Brookhaven Loop home. Law enforcement was alerted when a neighbor became concerned when the couple’s children were seen trying to enter the home around 4 p.m. After several attempts to reach the woman and noticing the couple’s vehicles in the driveway, she called authorities. The couple was later identified as Staff Sgt. Devereaux Cato and Saschya Cato and was being investigated as a case of domestic violence.

7. Flemington prepping for new grocery store

Flemington City Council members approved a variance request at their August 9 meeting that could open the door for a 47,250 square foot grocery store at Highway 84 and Flemington Village Boulevard. Also in the works are 2,660 square feet of restaurant space and more than 8,000 square feet of retail space

8. 11-year-old driver in a highspeed chase

A Fort Stewart child took a 2022 Dodge Ram for a ride that included a police chase and reached speeds of 100 mph in late August. The young driver was said to have struck an automated teller machine at a Gen. Screven Way bank and later hit a car driven by a 16-year-old. The chase ended when the driver, attempting to turn onto I-95’s southbound lanes, missed the turn and instead bogged down in a nearby grassy area. No injuries were reported from the chase.

9. Jury awards $4.25M to local family

A Liberty County State Court jury awarded the family of the late Patricia Edwards more than $4 million in a wrongful death suit, following an 11-day trial in May. Jurors found her two doctors negligent and Coastal Manor in treating her bedsores, which plaintiff ’s experts said led to an ulcer that had become infected prior to surgery. Edwards died April 7, 2019, under hospice care at home.

10. Gun incident at BI raises concerns about transparency

Parents took to social media in early April to complain about a lack of transparency from the Liberty County School System on a security and safety sweep at Liberty County High School and a social media post from a Bradwell Institute student who was showing what was believed to be a gun in a school bathroom. The student was identified and arrested but no gun was found in his possession and the gun in the social media post was not located at that time.

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