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 on 8/8/12 – ACPD has confirmed that they’re investigating the deaths as a double homicide.
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Police are investigating another possible homicide, this time in the Hall’s Hill/High View Park neighborhood.
A maintenance worker found two men dead in the living room of an apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street, after a family member had called because they hadn’t seen the resident for awhile, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. A television was on in the apartment and blood could be seen, but no weapon was found, Sternbeck said.
Detectives are investigating the incident as a possible homicide or double homicide, though so far police are only officially saying the deaths are “suspicious.” The deceased men have been identified by police as Keefe Spriggs, 59, of Arlington, and Carl Moten, 31, of no fixed address.
The men are acquaintances and the apartment belongs to Spriggs, Sternbeck said. Asked whether a killer is still on the loose, Sternbeck was vague.
“We do believe it’s an isolated incident,” he said. “We are very early in this investigation. The detectives that are working the case will be processing the scene, interviewing all the neighbors [and] last known contacts of these individuals.”
Several people, including a woman believed to be Spriggs’ sister, have already been interviewed by detectives on the scene.
This could be the third homicide in Arlington in as many weeks. On July 24, a woman was killed in a murder-suicide near Fairlington. On July 27, a jewelry store owner was killed during an armed robbery on Columbia Pike. A 53-year-old D.C. man was charged with murder last week for the latter crime.
Prior to July, there had not been a homicide in Arlington since March 14, 2010.
Police say the suspect, 53-year-old Southeast D.C. resident James Sylvester Caroline, was arrested yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. He’s being held at the Arlington County jail for a probation violation, but charges are expected to be filed against him in Wong’s death.
(Update on 8/3/12: Caroline has been formally charged with murder.)
A law enforcement source tells ARLnow.com that Caroline was arrested during a traffic stop on the 4300 block of King Street, on the Arlington/Alexandria line. The arrest, we’re told, was the result of “round the clock” work by numerous Arlington detectives and police officers.
Caroline’s long criminal record in Virginia includes charges of grand larceny and probation violation in 1994, failure to appear in court in 1998 and 1999, and credit card theft and fraud in 2005. Caroline is also currently being investigated for a jewelry store robbery in D.C., in which the suspect was caught on surveillance video wearing the same yellow vest as the suspect in the Columbia Pike homicide.
Police issued the following press release about Caroline’s arrest:
Charges are expected to be brought forward on a 52 year-old DC man for his role in a recent jewelry store homicide in Arlington County.
Wednesday afternoon, the Arlington County Police Department arrested James Sylvester Caroline, 52, of Washington, D.C. for probation violation. He is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are expected to be brought forward on Caroline in relation to the July 27, 2012 jewelry store homicide that resulted in the death of 52 year-old Tommy Wong.
Details on the arrest and the investigation will not be released at this time.
The Arlington County Police Department would like to recognize the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Metropolitan Police Department for their assistance that led to capture of Caroline. Additionally, Arlington County Police want to extend an appreciation to the community for their support and efforts by providing numerous tips over the past several days.
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.”
Family Remembers Homicide Victim — As Arlington police search for the man who killed a Columbia Pike jewelry shop owner on Friday, the family of the victim is speaking out. The victim’s daughter said her dad, 52-year-old Tommy Wong of Herndon, had owned Capital Jewelers at 3219 Columbia Pike for the past 5 years. “I just want to know why didn’t he take what he needed and leave my dad alone,” she said tearfully in a TV interview. [WUSA 9]
Tobacco Use Down Among Arlington Youth – Arlington youths are using less tobacco but are using more marijuana, according to the latest survey by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families. The survey results point to a continuation of a decade-long trend of declining tobacco use and increasing marijuana use among Arlington youth. [Sun Gazette]
Obituary for Local Business Leader – An obituary has been published for Syd Albrittain, the chief executive of local developer Dittmar Co., who died at the age of 82 last month. In addition to helping Arlington achieve its vision for transit-oriented development, Albrittain gave millions to local organizations like Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School, the Catholic Archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia Hospital Center and the Arlington Free Clinic. [Washington Post]
(Updated at 5:40 a.m.) Falls Church police are investigating a shooting at the Eden Center.
We’re told the shooting happened around 10:00 p.m. According to Falls Church police spokeswoman Susan Finarelli, one male was shot and was pronounced dead on the scene. Another male died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Eden Center is located at 6751 Wilson Boulevard.
Crystal City Fit Fair Kicks Off — Crystal City is holding a “fit fair” today from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event is part health fair, part blood drive. Inova’s bloodmobile will be on hand to let donors give blood in air conditioned comfort. For the general public, Inova will be providing blood pressure screening, Dermaview facial skin screening, Body Mass Index Assessment, tobacco cessation consultation and other services. There will also be gait analysis for runners, sports movement analysis, chair massages, and a fitness class demonstration. The event is taking place on Crystal Drive between 18th Street and 20th Street.
Arlington Lawyer Faces More Fraud Charges — An Arlington lawyer accused of practicing law without a license will face three additional charges of fraud. Howard Deiner, who specialized in bringing cases against school districts on behalf of families with special needs children, was already facing two charges when the grand jury tacked on three more on Monday. A trial date is expected to be set today. More from the Washington Post.
Prosecutors Still Reviewing DNA Evidence Against Arlington Suspect — Prosecutors in Illinois are still reviewing DNA evidence that allegedly links Arlington rape suspect Jorge Torrez to an infamous double homicide outside Chicago. For the time being, Jerry Hobbs, the man who was originally accused of the crime, will remain in prison facing trial. Since the DNA match, investigators have been interviewing new witnesses in the case. More from the Chicago Tribune.
State May Force Arlington To Cough Up $1.5 Million — Arlington County, already raising taxes and cutting services due to a multi-million dollar budget deficit, may be forced to send $1.5 million to the state in the form of cash or reductions in state-funded programs. Virginia lawmakers are forcing localities to make the payments to plug the state’s own budget gap, according to the Washington Examiner.
Arlington Man Found Dead in D.C. — Arlington resident Isidoro Flores, 44, was found shot to death in northeast Washington early Saturday morning. His body was found near a tractor-trailer with an open passenger door, reports ABC7.
Bishop O’Connell Star Named to Third All-American Team — Bishop O’Connell senior point guard and North Carolina recruit Kendall Marshall will be named to the Parade All-America team in the magazine’s April 4 issue, according to the Virginian-Pilot. He has previously been named to the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American teams. Marshall, who helped the private Arlington high school capture the Virginia Independent Schools boys basketball championship, was also just named VIS Division I Player of the Year.
Arlington resident Anner Rouben Hernandez-Estrada, 20, has been arrested and charged with a murder that occurred late Sunday in the Lyon Park neighborhood, police said Monday night.
Police have identified the victim as 20-year-old Cain Guevara-Estrada of Arlington. Investigators say Guevara-Estrada was found on a sidewalk in the 2800 block of North Pershing Drive, suffering from wounds to his upper body. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
A source tells ARLnow.com that Guevara-Estrada was stabbed to death. Police say they do not believe there is a connection between this crime and the stabbing death of Carl Diener on Dec. 29.
Hernandez-Estrada is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Center.
“This is another great example of our detectives pulling together info and locating a suspect of a seriously violent crime within one day,” Arlington police spokesperson Det. Crystal Nosal said, referring to the quick arrest of an abduction suspect earlier this month.
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department.
Update at 10:15 p.m. — An arrest has been made.
We received a tip overnight about a stabbing on the 2800 block of N. Pershing Drive, near the Lyon Park Community Center. We’re told the stabbing is now being investigated as a homicide.
The Arlington Police Department issued the following press release.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a homicide that occurred on Sunday, March 14, 2010. Police responded to a call at 11:15 p.m. regarding an injured man lying on a sidewalk in the 2800 block of North Pershing Drive. They found a man suffering from upper body trauma. The victim was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
The investigation is ongoing. The victim’s information will be released as soon as possible.
Anyone who has information about this death or the identity of the suspect is asked contact Detective John Donaggio at (703) 228-4167. Det. Donaggio can also be contacted via e-mail at Jdonag (at) arlingtonva.us. Witnesses can also call the Arlington Police Tip-Line at (703) 228-4242.