Through song, prayer and poetry, the Hall’s Hill community came together Tuesday night to mourn the loss of two of its own.
A candlelight vigil was held for double homicide victims Keefe Spriggs and Carl Moten at the Hall’s Hill/High View Park Memorial Garden. Dozens of people young and old — including friends, family and neighbors of the victims — attended the somber vigil, which was organized in part by the Calloway United Methodist Church (5000 Lee Highway). Speakers included pastors and community members.
On the morning of August 7, 59-year-old Spriggs and 31-year-old Moten were found murdered in an apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street, in Hall’s Hill — the neighborhood in which they were both born and raised. So far, police have not released any additional information regarding the ongoing investigation into the homicides.
Spriggs, known as Kee-Kee to friends and family, was divorced and was working at a body shop. Moten, also known as Pooh Bear, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and had been working as a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church.
Calloway pastor Rev. Sonja Flye Oliver said Spriggs and Moten both came from families with “extremely deep roots in the Hall’s Hill community.”
“Both of these families are families of faith, families of character,” she said. “These people exemplify what it means to be a close knit community.”
Rev. Oliver said it has been more than a decade since a crime like this has happened in the area.
“This is just shocking, it’s a shocking thing to have happen,” she said. “I’ve heard over and over again: things like this just don’t happen in Hall’s Hill.”
“When one of us hurts, all of us hurt, because we’re all related,” she told the gathered crowd. “We’re related by blood or we’re related by the Spirit. I like the feeling of family that this community exhibits all the time. You feel the love and the presence of God here.”
The families of both men are “not strangers to loss,” Rev. Oliver said. Spriggs’ mother had previously lost a son to a motorcycle accident and another son to an illness, she said.
The funeral for Spriggs was held on Tuesday. Moten’s funeral will be held at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in the Arlington View neighborhood on Thursday.
Rev. Oliver said Arlington County Police have been responsive to the community during the investigation into the homicides.
“We have faith that they are working diligently and trying to piece everything together,” she said. “I think the community will rejoice when we have an answer. We would just like to know who and why.”
In the meantime, she said, the “outpouring of love from the community” has been helping the families of Spriggs and Moten cope with their loss.
Update at 4:10 p.m. — A suspect has been arrested in the case.
Some 200 people gathered in front of the Capital Jewelers store at 3219 Columbia Pike last night (Wednesday) for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of slain shopkeeper Tommy Wong.
The Herndon resident was killed at his store during a robbery on the afternoon of Friday, July 27. Police are currently working leads in an effort to catch the killer, who was seen on surveillance footage entering the store while wearing a yellow traffic vest.
Among the crowd at the vigil last night were Mr. Wong’s family members — wife Elizabeth, daughter Vivian and son Desmond — plus friends, former co-workers, local residents, fellow Columbia Pike business owners, and a number of police officers and detectives.
Those who knew Mr. Wong described him as a friendly, industrious man who went the extra mile for customers and who worked hard to provide for his family.
“We are here to celebrate Tommy’s life,” said Lindsey Nguonly, owner of Princess Jewelers in Rockville, Md. Nguonly said Wong, a Hong Kong native, worked at his store for 15 years after he helped sponsor his emigration to the United States.
“Tommy came here to live the American Dream,” Nguonly said. “He never said no to anybody who asked for help. It is unfortunate and inconceivable to believe his life has been cut short like this.”
Robert Beverly, a Skyline resident and frequent customer of Capital Jewelers, said Wong had “a gentleness that we don’t see in this society very often.”
“You don’t stand alone here,” he said, addressing Mr. Wong’s family. “We feel your pain and we stand with you. We’re hoping and praying that the detectives will catch this culprit.”
Amid tears, family members thanked those in attendance and spoke briefly, but lovingly of Mr. Wong.
“My husband was a good man,” said Elizabeth Wong.
“My father has been a perfect role model,” said his 25-year-old son, Desmond. “I couldn’t have asked for more from my father.”
Vivian Wong said the turnout at the vigil — which was large enough to prompt police to block one lane of westbound Columbia Pike — was “amazing.”
“It makes it a lot easier to know we have so many people here to help us through this tough time,” she said. “I know if my father was here, he would be really touched.”
Among those in attendance was County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who lives in the nearby Douglas Park neighborhood. Zimmerman didn’t speak at the vigil, but said he came out in solidarity.
“It’s a loss to our Columbia Pike community,” he told ARLnow.com. “It’s something that shakes you. It’s terrible.”
Zimmerman’s sentiment was echoed by a customer who described Mr. Wong as a man of integrity who had a “great sense of honor.”
“We all love [Tommy] and we are going to miss him,” she told the gathered crowd. “We are not going to ever, ever forget.”
Candlelight Vigil for Hit and Run Victim — Friends of Zorigoo Munkhbayar gathered on the Rhodes Street Bridge Sunday night to mourn the 23-year-old’s tragic death. Munkhbayar was hit by a car — which then fled the scene — as he was walking down Route 50 early Friday morning. [Ode Street Tribune]
Residents Still Waiting for Promised Traffic Lights — Some residents are asking: Why haven’t traffic lights been installed at the intersections of N. Qunicy Street and 9th Street and Wilson Blvd and N. Pollard Street? After all, Arlington County has already collected tens of thousands of dollars from developers with the express purpose of installing traffic lights at the intersections. [Sun Gazette]
Clarendon Urgent Care Center Opens — Mid Atlantic Urgent Care opens today at 3301 Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. The seven-day-a-week medical office encourages walk-in visits from patients with non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. [Mid Atlantic Urgent Care]
Disclosure: Mid Atlantic Urgent Care is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
What Diener was not was a likely crime victim. After all, he lived within the safe confines of Lyon Village and, if worse came to worse, he was one of the fastest runners of all his sporty friends.
Nonetheless, early in the morning on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009, Diener was beaten and stabbed to death near the intersection of 13th and Irving Streets in Arlington. The shocking crime has remained Arlington’s only unsolved murder since 2006.
Last night, about two dozen friends of Diener showed up at the intersection for a candlelight vigil. Many of those in attendance said they counted Carl as a close friend, speaking to his instantly likable, outgoing personality.
“He was a guy who loved his friends and enjoyed life,” said Ed Hall, who knew Diener through his gym (Carl was a constant fixture at Arlington Sport & Health Club). “A lot of times when you hear about a murder on TV, people always say, ‘Oh he was a nice person.’ Carl really was.”
Diener, 57, lived alone in an apartment he first moved into 20 years prior. He had recently retired from a government job, and was on his way to his other job — opening Arlington Sport & Health in the pre-dawn hours — when he was attacked. Police say it was a random act of violence.
“He was a random victim, there’s no doubt,” said Det. Rosa Ortiz, the lead investigator in the case.
Friends say there must have been multiple assailants to overpower a man as in-shape as Diener.
“It was probably more than one, because Carl was a big guy,” said Michael Byrnes, who said he had played racquetball with Diener four time per week for the last 30 years. “It was a senseless, brutal act… in what we consider a safe neighborhood.”
Hall said Arlington’s relatively low homicide rate — there were two murders last year, and only one so far this year — is little consolation.
“They talk about, ‘Oh there were only two murders in Arlington County last year,” said Hall, his voice cracking with emotion. “Well, when it’s your friend, two is too many.”
The vigil is being organized in conjunction with a drive by police to gather more tips in the case. Police are planning on distributing fliers Wednesday night in the area of 13th and Irving Streets in Clarendon, where Diener was found beaten and stabbed early in the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009.
Diener, a 57-year-old retired government employee, was on his way to work at the Arlington Sport & Health Club at the time of his death. A $25,000 reward is offered for information that helps to solve the case.
“We are hoping that a candlelight vigil will remind the community of the events one year ago… and maybe someone will remember seeing or hearing something that will turn out to be helpful,” wrote Patti Diener Lough, Carl’s sister. “The more people there on Wednesday, the more attention this will get in the media, too. This can only help.”
Diener Lough says she expects several of Carl’s cousins and many of his friends to attend the vigil, which will start around 7:30.