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by ARLnow.com — June 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm 1,414 0

William Couch (photo courtesy ACPD)A man has pleaded guilty to two 25-year-old cold cases in Arlington.

William Couch pleaded guilty to abduction with intent to defile and object sexual penetration in the cases, according to an Arlington County Police Department press release.

According to police, Couch admitted to the May 9, 1989 sexual assault and robbery of a woman whose home was broken into as she slept, and the Sept. 11, 1989 rape of a woman who was forced into a maintenance room by a man after she arrived early for her shift at work.

“In January of 2013, cold case detectives reviewed evidence from these cases and in June of 2013 William Couch became a suspect,” according to the press release. “On February 17, 2014 Couch was indicted on charges in connection to these assaults. On June 12, 2014, he pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 years on each case.”

The cases were investigated by detectives Rosa Ortiz and Robert Icolari, of ACPD’s Cold Case Squad, and prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Cari Steele. Ortiz is best known for being the lead detective in the Carl Diener murder case.

“Once again the value of a having a Cold Case Squad has been proven as we were able to bring some closure to two victims while bringing this sexual predator to justice,” said Deputy Chief Daniel Murray, commander of ACPD’s Criminal Investigations Division.

by ARLnow.com — February 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm 16,695 0

Pedestrian struck in front of Nottingham Elementary(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A memorial fund has been established for Jennifer Lawson, the Arlington mom who was killed after being struck by a dump truck in front of Nottingham Elementary School yesterday morning.

Lawson, 39, was placing her two-year-old daughter in the rear seat of her minivan, after volunteering at the school, when the truck struck her and the side of the van. Her daughter was unhurt. Her two sons, who attend Nottingham, were inside the school at the time.

The family had recently returned from a vacation to Costa Rica, we’re told.

A close friend of the family, Trent Livingston, has set up a fund to “help offset the unforeseen costs of this tragic event” and to benefit Lawson’s three children. He hopes to raise $5,000.

“[Jennifer] was such a great mom, so devoted to her husband and her family,” Livingston told ARLnow.com from his home in Seattle. “She leaves behind so many friends who love her so much. This has just been so shocking and so terrible.”

As of 11:30 a.m. the fund had raised $620. As of 3:15 p.m. it had raised $7,439.

So far, no charges have been filed against the driver of the dump truck. That could change at any minute, though.

“Because of the nature of the accident, the investigation is going to take a little longer,” according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson. “It’s much more in-depth than most accident investigations.”

by ARLnow.com — January 24, 2014 at 8:05 am 9,284 0

Two vehicles involved in a fatal accident in Rosslyn (screenshot via NBC4)(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Arlington County police are investigating a fatal accident that occurred overnight at the intersection of Ft. Myer Drive and Lee Highway, near the Key Bridge.

Police say two vehicles, a Jeep and a sedan, were involved in a t-bone collision around 2:00 a.m. The Jeep, traveling eastbound on Lee Highway, struck the sedan and a 24-year-old man in the sedan died, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and has since been charged with DUI and involuntary manslaughter. From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is currently investigating a fatal motor vehicle accident which occurred in Rosslyn at the intersection of Lee Highway and Fort Myer Drive at 2:09 AM on January 24, 2014.

A Jeep Wrangler, operated by Aman Singh Lail, 24, of Baltimore, Maryland was travelling eastbound on Lee Highway when it struck a Chrysler Crossfire being operated by Saqlain Chowdhury, 24, of Alexandria, Virginia.

Mr. Chowdhury was transported by paramedics from the Arlington County Fire Department to the George Washington University Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Mr. Lail has been charged with Driving Under the Influence – Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter. He is being held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Center.

The eastbound lanes of Lee Highway were closed for approximately five hours, opening shortly before 7:00 AM.

Police are asking anyone with information concerning this incident to contact Detective Sara Bertollini of the Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team at (703) 228-4243.

Screenshot via NBC4

by Katie Pyzyk — December 11, 2013 at 10:30 am 1,644 0

Arlington County police car (file photo)Dozens of cars parked in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood had their tires slashed over the weekend in the same area where a similar incident occurred last month.

Police say 40 cars were hit sometime from 12:30-7:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 7. The first vandalized car was discovered at 7:00 a.m. that day and dozens of others were found as residents emerged from their homes.

The targeted cars were found along several blocks in Hall’s Hill: the 1800 and 1900 blocks of N. Dinwiddie Street, the 1800 block of N. Culpeper Street, the 1700 block of N. Cameron Street, the 4900 blocks of 17th and 18th Streets N., the 4700 and 5000 blocks of 19th Street N. and the 5000 block of 20th Street N. Most of the vehicles were in the street but some were also parked in driveways.

This is the same neighborhood struck last month when 36 vehicles were discovered with slashed tires. Some of the vehicles vandalized on Saturday had been hit last month as well.

Police do not have any suspects so far but the investigation is ongoing.

“We are aware of the continued target of that general area and without going into specifics about the tactical strategy, we will be deploying resources in that area,” said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood or who may have information about the vandalism incidents is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.

by ARLnow.com — December 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm 1,589 0

U.S. Park Police badgeA Maryland man has been arrested and charged with negligent homicide following a fatal crash on Memorial Circle.

The crash occurred in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 11. According to police, a vehicle was heading outbound on the Memorial Bridge when it “lost control and overturned for unknown reasons” at the circle. At the time, the deceased — 36-year-old Katharine Jane Rahim of Reston — was said to be the vehicle’s sole occupant.

However, police now say the vehicle’s driver, 24-year-old Carlos Joel Alonso, fled the scene prior to the arrival of first responders.

“United States Park Police investigated the crash which revealed negligence of the operator resulting in the fatality of passenger,” according to a Park Police news release. “Alonso… left the scene [and] was found several hours later at Columbia Island Marina.”

Alonso, a Maryland resident, was arrested yesterday (Dec. 3) on charges of negligent homicide. He surrendered his passport and was released on bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 13.

by Katie Pyzyk — November 19, 2013 at 10:45 am 1,544 0

Police investigating tire slashing spree in Hall's Hill (photo via @ArlingtonVaPD)(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) Police are investigating a string of tire slashing incidents that occurred overnight in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood.

According to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, 36 vehicles had their tires slashed. Each vehicle had one or two tires slashed and no other damage has been found on the vehicles.

Police received slashed tire reports from residents on a number of blocks in the neighborhood, with large concentrations along the 1800 block of N. Culpeper Street, the 1900 block of N. Dinwiddie Street and along N. 19th Street. Some vehicles were parked in the street and others were in driveways. Police were at the scene for hours this morning to check out each new report as residents exited their houses and discovered the damage.

At this time, it does not appear that there is a connection among the types of vehicles targeted, as was the case when Priuses were vandalized in July. It’s too early to tell if the Hall’s Hill incident is related to the incident with the Priuses, or to another tire slashing spree that happened in the Arlington View neighborhood in August.

So far police do not have any suspects in this case. Anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood overnight is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.

Photo via @ArlingtonVaPD

by Katie Pyzyk — July 8, 2013 at 9:35 am 469 0

An ART bus suffered an apparent brake malfunction and rolled down a hill, damaging several vehiclesThree Arlington Transit (ART) buses returned to service today following an investigation stemming from an accident last month.

The county pulled all three of its electric-natural gas hybrid buses from service after one of them suffered an apparent brake failure and rolled backward down N. Barton Street, directly into a car.

A statement from ART reads: “These three buses were thoroughly tested at the Altoona Bus Testing and Research Center before delivery to ART. Braking performance of all three buses was recently retested in varying conditions – and proved excellent… The knowledge acquired from recent testing and data has been applied in a retraining program for ART operators, to insure that safety, mechanical and operational aspects meet our expectations for service quality.”

The hybrids are manufactured by DesignLine and first appeared on Arlington streets last September.

by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm 3,603 0

New Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation bus, which is used for the Senior Adult Travel Program (photo courtesy Arlington County DPR)One county employee was fired and three others were disciplined after financial irregularities were discovered at Arlington’s Senior Adult Travel Program, but no criminal charges were brought after a months-long investigation that one source says was “botched.”

The investigation started in fall 2011, after four improperly-opened bank accounts were discovered, but only came to light this month after one of disciplined employees appealed her punishment at a public Civil Service Commission hearing, which was attended by ARLnow.com.

The four accounts were opened, unbeknownst to county officials, at an Arlington PNC Bank branch in 2010. They were opened by an Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) employee who coordinated the Senior Adult Travel program, we’re told by a source with knowledge of the investigation.

The county-run senior travel program organizes dozens of trips per year for Arlington residents over the age of 55. The activities range from day trips to cultural performance, casinos and historic sites — on a new county-owned bus — to overnight trips to Europe and elsewhere. The program has two employees, an annual budget of $134,046 and recorded 2,738 trip reservations in Fiscal Year 2012, according to DPR Director Jane Rudolph.

The four accounts were used to deposit fees paid by travelers and to pay for senior travel program expenses, but were outside of the county’s direct control. By personally opening and controlling the account, the employee (who has not been officially identified) was able to conduct transactions — like paying for meals and other expenses on the trips — without the restrictions and hassle of the county’s internal financial controls.

“It was well-meaning employees who thought they were enhancing the experience of seniors,” Arlington County Director of Human Resources Marcy Foster told ARLnow.com. “They were delivering quick and efficient services, and they thought that was the way to do it.”

But operating the accounts, and cashing checks written out to Arlington County in accounts not controlled by the county, was a serious violation of county policy. After one of the accounts was discovered by an audit in late 2010, DPR management and budget analyst Celia Wong-Walsh was directed by then-DPR Director Dinesh Tiwari to close it.

For nearly a year, however, the account remained open. Wong-Walsh, the employee who appealed her punishment this month, told the Civil Service Commission that she could not force the bank to close the rogue account. She says the bank told her that the account could only be closed by the employee that opened it.

Wong-Walsh, who has since retired, had some of her unpaid leave stripped for failing to proactively work with the employee to close the account. She appealed the punishment, saying she did not have the legal authority to close the account and didn’t even know that more than one rogue account had been opened.

(The commission upheld the county’s disciplinary action but reduced the amount of leave that was taken away.)

The accounts were finally closed in September 2011, after the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office discovered them independently. The discovery was made when a $200 check written from one of the accounts bounced in August 2011, and the woman who it was written to contacted the treasurer.

A police investigation followed, but no criminal wrongdoing was found.

“We didn’t find any money missing,” said Foster. “There was no criminal activity.”

That point was disputed by a source with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity. The source said up to $17,000 might have been missing from the accounts, but any solid evidence of that was lost because it took too long to investigate.

“The case was so screwed up that they couldn’t prosecute,” the source said.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm 2,822 0

A makeshift memorial was set up this week at the site of a fatal crash in Rosslyn.

Sami Ullah, a 21-year-old Leesburg resident, died Sunday when the BMW M5 he was driving hit a curb and flipped several times after speeding across the Key Bridge at up to 90 miles per hour. The car came to rest on its roof, in the bushes in front of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn.

Two passengers, ages 21 and 22 and both also from Leesburg, were seriously injured in the wreck.

A memorial was set up at the site, featuring dozens of flowers and a poster showing photos of Ullah with friends and family.

“Rest in paradise,” the poster said. Remnants from the crash and the emergency response — including muddy tire tracks, broken glass, a paramedic’s latex glove and the destroyed section of bushes — could still be seen at the site.

Ullah was preparing to graduate from Virginia Tech and pursue a Master’s degree in business, WJLA reported.

Arlington County police are still investigating the circumstances leading to the crash.

Hat tip to Ian Luria

by ARLnow.com — January 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm 5,346 39 Comments

(L to R) Mack Leon Wood, Jean Pierre and Sapien Edmonds

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Arlington County police have arrested three suspects in the murder of an 87-year-old Arlington man.

Mack L. WoodOn Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, police found Mack L. Wood, 87, dead in his home on the 3700 block of N. Wakefield Street, in the Old Glebe neighborhood. Three days later, police announced that Wood’s death was “suspicious.”

Today, the Arlington County Police Department announced that three people have been arrested in connection with Wood’s death, which is now suspected to be a homicide.

Among those arrested was Mack’s 47-year-old son. Police records show he was arrested in Hillsborough County, Florida, in the Tampa area, yesterday, Jan. 28.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit has charged three suspects in connection with the suspicious death of an Arlington County resident. The investigation began when the incident was reported as an accidental death on the morning of October 13, 2012. The victim was identified as Mack L. Wood, 87, of Arlington, VA. His body was discovered inside his residence in the 3700 block of N. Wakefield Street by a family member.

After a thorough review of evidence, forensic examination, consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and an extensive investigation, three suspects were identified and apprehended without incident. The son of the victim, Mack Leon Wood, Jr., 47, was located by the United States Marshals Service in the Tampa, FL area and has been arrested and charged with first degree murder. Jean Caleb Pierre, 32, and Sapien Edmonds, 29, both of Henrico, VA have also been charged with first degree murder. All three suspects are currently being held without bond.

Wood’s death was the fifth reported homicide in Arlington County in 2012, after homicides in Shirlington, Hall’s Hill and on Columbia Pike.

by ARLnow.com — November 16, 2012 at 10:25 am 3,937 23 Comments

 

Update at 11:15 a.m. — The all-clear has been given and emergency responders are leaving the scene.

Earlier: Arlington County firefighters and Metro Transit Police are on the scene of a hazardous materials investigation at the Pentagon City Metro station.

Initial reports suggest a series of nearly a dozen soda bottles filled with a yellow-ish liquid were found on the platform. Authorities are trying to determine whether the liquid is hazardous.

The station is still open during the investigation, with only a portion of the platform closed to foot traffic.

“The station is open,” WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel tells ARLnow.com. “They’ve just cordoned off a portion of the platform. Trains continue to service the station normally.”

Stessel said authorities are “investigating unattended items.”

Metro Transit Police officers with bomb sniffing dogs could also be seen searching the area around the station entrance,

by ARLnow.com — November 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm 7,884 28 Comments

Halloween in Arlington was relatively quiet, but it was not without a few notable crimes.

The first incident started out as a mystery right out of a horror movie: several pools of blood were found this morning within a one block radius of Ray’s Hell Burger in the Rosslyn area.

One was found on the sidewalk along Wilson Boulevard, between N. Rhodes Street and N. Quinn Street.

Then, two more were reportedly found in the parking lot and elevator of an apartment building on the 1800 block of N. Quinn Street. Also at the scene: a bloody CVS bag with shampoo and cat food in it, according to a witness.

At first, police were baffled by the blood — no one had called the night before to report any nefarious acts in the area. One nearby resident even told police he had been up all night with the window open and hadn’t heard a thing. Eventually, though, investigators located the source of the gore: a man who lived in the apartment building in which the blood was found.

The man — who’s in his late 20s, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck — had a broken nose and a pair of black eyes. He didn’t remember much from the night before, but confirmed that he had been out drinking at nearby Red Hot and Blue, then left the restaurant and took a Lunesta sleeping pill. It was at that point that his memory got fuzzy. Police believe he got into some sort of altercation, but robbery was likely not the motive — he still had all his money and credit cards with him.

Police photographed and collected samples at the blood pools and then called the fire department to hose them down. Because the man couldn’t remember what happened, police don’t have much to go on in terms of finding a suspect.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Sternbeck said.

In Ballston, meanwhile, Halloween revelry took a dark turn when an intoxicated man hopped behind the bar of a restaurant on the 600 block of N. Glebe Road (in Ballston Common Mall) around 11:30 last night.

A female bartender confronted the man, at which time he grabbed a bottle of Amaretto and swung it at her, according to police. The bartender sustained a cut to her leg and was taken to Virginia Hospital Center. The man, identified as 30-year-old Jorge Zunagua of Alexandria, was detained by security, arrested and charged with malicious wounding.

Elsewhere in Arlington, a couple of instances of mischief were reported. One house was egged and one of its windows was somehow broken as a result, according to Sternbeck. He was unable to say where in Arlington the house was located.

In Virginia Square, pranksters rearranged the numbers on a gas station sign to suggest that regular unleaded gasoline was $7.43 per gallon. A passerby informed the manager of the station (Japanese Auto Service) of the prank.

Photo (bottom) courtesy James Webster

by ARLnow.com — October 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm 5,179 37 Comments

Arlington County Police, the county bomb squad and FBI agents are on the scene at the Woodbury Park Apartments, on the 2200 block of 11th Street N. near Clarendon, searching the apartment of Leon A. Traille, Jr.

Video of the search, courtesy of Fox 5, can be found below. So far, there’s no indication that the apartment building has been evacuated, but the investigators are still on the scene. Bomb technicians entered the apartment via the window.

Traille is facing a federal arson charge after police say he tried to fire bomb the Ballston Common Mall food court. He was arrested several hours later while eating lunch at Courthouse Plaza.

Social media accounts linked to Traille, along with public records, suggest he’s an out-of-work computer programmer who has previously lived in Georgia, Oregon and New York City.

Courtesy photo
DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

by ARLnow.com — October 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm 9,430 150 Comments

Update at 9:10 a.m. on 10/16/12 — The male victim is recovering from his injuries, while the female victim is still in critical condition in a medically-induced coma, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police are still awaiting the result of a blood test on the driver before pressing charges. According to Sternbeck, witnesses told police that the driver did a “burn out” at the intersection before losing control of the truck.

The driver of a pick-up truck lost control and plowed into two cyclists on Four Mile Run Drive this afternoon, police said.

According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the driver was heading eastbound on Columbia Pike, made a right-hand turn onto Four Mile Run Drive, lost control of the truck, went over the median and struck the cyclists. The cyclists were biking in the roadway and not on the adjacent trail, Sternbeck said.

The victims, a man and a woman, were both in their 60s, Sternbeck said. The woman suffered “significant head trauma” and a broken pelvis. The man suffered broken ribs and punctured lungs. Both victims were transported to George Washington University Hospital in “serious” condition.

Charges are pending against the driver of the truck, who remained on scene after the accident, Sternbeck said. Four Mile Run Drive was closed between Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive for much of the afternoon while police investigated the accident.

by ARLnow.com — September 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm 4,925 74 Comments

An Arlington County Police cruiser slammed into a vehicle in Pentagon City while responding to a call this (Sunday) afternoon.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. The officer was heading westbound on Army Navy Drive, responding to a large fight in progress at the Sheraton National hotel (900 S. Orme Street), when a Saab pulled out in front of him from a Pentagon parking lot. Multiple witnesses told ARLnow.com that the cruiser had its lights and siren on, while the driver of the Saab had a green light. One witness said he was in his car with the windows up and could not hear the siren.

The cruiser and the Saab collided, sending the Saab careening into the eastbound lanes of Army Navy Drive. The cruiser wound up in the center of the intersection, facing an entrance to the Pentagon City mall parking garage.

Paramedics treated the female driver of the Saab at the scene for an apparent ankle injury. The officer did not require medical attention.

Eastbound Army Navy Drive was closed for at least an hour while police photographed the scene and took witness statements. No word yet whether any charges will be filed as a result of the accident.

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