North Carolina medical examiners almost never go to infant death scenes and sometimes flout a state requirement to look at the baby’s body – two steps that national experts say are vital to competent inquiries. In some cases, two babies have died in one home.

They caused us to take notice. They inspired and touched us. They made us wonder, and sometimes wonder why. They were the focus of some of the most read and talked-about Observer stories of the year. Today, we revisit those stories and the people behind them.

The Rev. Jennifer “Helms” Jarrell and her husband, Greg, are white, college educated and from middle-class backgrounds, but they choose to live in one of Charlotte’s poorest and most racially segregated neighborhoods.

Thousands of police officers from across the nation packed a church and spilled onto streets Saturday to honor Officer Rafael Ramos as a devoted family man, aspiring chaplain and hero, though an air of unrest surrounding his ambush shooting was not completely pushed aside.

Charlotte Squawks is an annual stage show poking fun at politics, pop culture and sports through satire and musical parodies. Produced by the Blumenthal and featuring Mike Collins of WFAE’s Charlotte Talks, the show runs every June in the Booth Theater and just finished its 10th season.

The State Board of Education is being asked to allow 11 charter schools to open next year, including three in Charlotte, even as the state and Mecklenburg County fell short of 2014 charter school enrollment projections.

Schools superintendent Heath Morrison quit amid what an aide called a climate of fear. Mayor Patrick Cannon left in a climate of corruption. Pat Cotham battled in a climate of distrust.

These gadgets make it easier to share data, stream music and movies, and keep your hands free while doing other things.

Today is the calm after the storm. It's time to reset and prep for New Year's Eve. On nights like...

Sip + Play

Toppman: Tim Burton’s latest look at artistic outsiders – the much-reviled painting Keanes – is his weakest to date. Grade: D

The Daily Edit 12.28.14

The Panthers could check off the back-to-back NFL playoffs box if they beat or tie the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Kemba Walker’s 35 points in the second half of Saturday's loss to the Magic were the most by one player in one half in Charlotte NBA history.

For the third straight year, a critical interception ended Duke’s hopes of breaking a bowl drought that dates back 54 seasons.

Tuesday night, former Charlotte Christian standout Jeb Blazevich will step onto the biggest stage of his promising football career as Georgia faces Louisville in the Belk Bowl.

Victory Christian coach Aureice McCain liked the focus but not the occasional ‘mental breakdowns’ during Saturday’s 72-59 win.

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