The year 2008 saw its fair share of unusual crimes, missing people and landmark cases.
It was the year O.J. Simpson, acquitted in 1995 of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, was sentenced to prison for an armed robbery inside a Las Vegas hotel room; a suburban mother was convicted of cyberbullying her 13-year-old neighbor; thousands tuned in as investigators searched for a missing Florida toddler; and members of a polygamist religious sect clashed with authorities in Texas.
Here are the most widely read law and justice stories of 2008 from ABCNews.com.
Joran van der Sloot, a former suspect in the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway, said on surveillance recordings aired on a Dutch TV special that Holloway appeared to be lifeless on an Aruban beach three years ago during a romantic tryst and that "she'll never be found."
"I know what happened to that girl," van der Sloot announced during 20 hours of private conversations secretly recorded by crime reporter Peter R. de Vries.
Her body, van der Sloot said, had been dumped in the ocean by a friend with a boat.
"We're on the beach," he said on the recordings, according to the Dutch TV show. "Suddenly, she wasn't moving anymore."
Van der Sloot claimed he was lying in the secretly recorded conversations with Patrick van der Eem, a person he thought was a friend, but who was secretly working undercover for de Vries and his team of Dutch crime reporters.
Read the story: Holloway Suspect: 'I Know What Happened'.
A utility worker found the remains Dec. 11 in a wooded area near the home that Caylee shared with her mother and grandparents. Her death was ruled a "homicide of undetermined means."
Caylee was 2 years old when she was reported missing July 15. At the time, her mother, Casey Anthony, said she had not seen Caylee in 31 days.
Casey Anthony has been charged with murder. She is being held in the Orange County jail and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Starting April 3, authorities in Texas raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch and took more than 400 children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints into state custody.
State child protection workers claimed that girls -- some as young as 14 -- from the polygamist religious sect were being married off to older men and that all of the children were at risk of physical or emotional abuse.
The raid was prompted by a series of phone calls from someone claiming to be a 16-year-old girl named Sarah, who said she was trapped on the compound and was being abused by her much older husband.
The raid sparked one of the largest child protection cases in U.S. history and set off a conflict between state power and religious freedom.
The case also proved to be a logistical nightmare for the state, as hundreds of lawyers and child advocates crammed into a San Angelo, Texas, courtroom for a mass hearing.