More Details in Aurora Highlands Slaying — Investigators have sent hairs found in the hands of murder victim Bonnie Black to a lab for DNA testing. Police have also thoroughly searched the house of Black’s estranged husband, confiscating items like a Swiss Army knife, computers and a hair brush. [Washington Post]
DCA Terminal Proposal Unveiled — Officials have unveiled a $800 million plan to build a new commuter aircraft terminal at Reagan National Airport. The terminal would be built to the north of the existing terminals, replacing a headquarters building and a hangar. Currently, 5,000 commuter jet passengers a day use a single gate and are bussed to their planes. [InsideNova]
Silver Line Phase 2 Delayed — The second phase of Metro’s Silver Line is delayed by just over a year, officials announced Monday. The Silver Line is now not expected to reach Dulles Airport until late 2019 or 2020. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the Silver Line, blames project changes intended to enhance safety. [NBC Washington]
Ballston Tech Firm Acquired — Ballston-based Applied Predictive Technologies has been bought by MasterCard for $600 million. The company “uses cloud-based analytics to help clients measure marketing, merchandising and operations efforts.” [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police will be holding a community meeting in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood Wednesday to provide anxious residents information about the department’s investigation into the murder of 42-year-old Bonnie Delgado Black.
Police confirmed Monday that they’re investigating Black’s death — at her home on 18th Street S. — as a homicide, saying that the 42-year-old single mother of two was stabbed to death. No other new details about the crime or the murder weapon were released.
Investigators were back at the house this morning, processing evidence. There is still no suspect in the case, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, and Black’s ex-husband, who lives a few blocks away, is “fully cooperating with the police investigation.”
“We’re continuing to remain on scene with a 24/7 security detail,” Sternbeck said, “and officers continue to canvas the neighborhood.”
Black’s children, ages 3 and 5, have been placed in foster care, according to police.
The community meeting will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church (830 23rd Street S.) Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The police district commander, criminal investigations commander and acting police chief Jay Farr are among those expected to discuss the case. There will also be an open question-and-answer session with Chief Farr.
The meeting was arranged “to address the community safety concerns,” said Sternbeck.
“We were receiving a lot of inquiries from residents down there and we thought it would be appropriate to participate in this community discussion,” he said.
County Considering Hiking Parking Fees — The Arlington County Board this month is expected to consider a staff proposal to raise the short term parking rate from $1.25 to $1.50 per hour and the long term rate from $1 to $1.25. The Board will also consider extending the end of metered parking hours from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. [InsideNova]
Arlingtonians Worried About Climate Change — According to a new study, 65 percent of Arlington residents say they’re worried about climate change. That compares to 74 percent of D.C. residents who say they’re worried about climate change and a national average of 52 percent. [DCist, Yale]
NTSB Examining Arlington Smoke Incident — Looking for clues into the fatal smoke Jan. 12 smoke incident near the L’Enfant Metro station, NTSB investigators are looking at arcing electrical components from a Feb. 11 smoke incident between the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations. Meanwhile, Metro is trying to figure out how to accelerate a plan to replace older power cables. [Washington Post]
‘Ready for Hillary’ Ready to Shut Down — The Rosslyn-based super PAC Ready for Hillary is preparing to shut down when Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign officially ramps up. The PAC has compiled a list of 3.8 million supporters and 130,000 donors. It raised $14 million with a staff of 1-2 dozen. [Associated Press]
Photo courtesy @jamijrodgers
One possible explanation for the lack of participation in a program that could save companies thousands of dollars a year: many local tech companies say they haven’t heard about it.
Last year, the Arlington County Board approved a measure “to broaden the Technology Zone incentive program for new technology companies.” The action was trumpeted in a press release by then-County Board chair Jay Fisette.
“These updates reflect the reality of a quickly-changing tech world,” Fisette said at the time. “I said that we would lay the groundwork this year for Arlington to become a hub of the innovation economy. This update to our Tech Zones is a big step in the right direction.”
As of March 19, however, only eight businesses had applied and subsequently qualified for “Technology Zone” status for their 2014 taxes, according to Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Ann Bisson. She could not say which companies had qualified nor how much local tax revenue those companies represent.
“Because of the nature of the tech business currently having so few companies applying, I am not allowed by law to give you that information in this case,” Bisson said. “Virginia law prohibits us from giving out any kind of information where it could be determined what one company has in income.”
In order to qualify, a company has to prove that it meets the following requirements:
- Has been in business in Arlington for no more than 18 months, or has grown in full-time employment by at least 25 percent within the past 12 months.
- Is located in a commercial building in Arlington.
- “Has a primary function in the creation, design, and/or research and development of technology hardware or software.”
It’s unclear how many of the current crop of up-and-coming media- and service-oriented tech companies — Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb, Pinterest, Spotify, etc. — would qualify under of that definition.
“The use of computers, telecommunications services, or a web page or internet site shall not, in itself, be sufficient to qualify as a qualified technology business,” according to county code.
For those that do qualify, the savings are significant: the Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax rate is reduced from $0.36 for every $100 of a business’ gross receipts, to between $0.18 and $0.10, depending on the size of the company.
“Arlington Economic Development (AED) estimates that the updated incentives would amount to a five-year benefit from about $39,000 for a 20-employee company to $155,000 for an 80-employee company – an average savings of $2.25 per square foot, if applied to annual rent for companies that qualify,” according to the 2014 press release.
ARLnow.com reached out to a number of the Arlington-based tech firms we have profiled for our Startup Monday feature. Of those that responded, most said they would likely qualify for the incentive, but none had heard of it before we reached out.
“Without you pointing it out, I’m not sure we would have figured it out,” said the founder of a Clarendon-based startup, who declined to be identified. “We use an out-of-state accountant and this is a pretty hyper-local set of incentives. We certainly would sign up, now that we know it exists.”
Raymond Rahbar, founder and CEO of UberOffices, which houses at least a dozen local tech startups at its Rosslyn coworking space, said no one has reached out to him or his company about informing its members of the incentive.
Rami Essaid, the founder and CEO of Distil Networks in Ballston, also said he had not been contacted. However, he said incentive program is small potatoes for startups that hope to scale into billion-dollar businesses.
“When you are in hyper growth, you care more about big picture things like being able to continue to scale and not optimizing little things like taxes,” Essaid told ARLnow.com. “That said, Arlington I feel like has done many of the right things to foster an environment for scale. That means having the right talent pool, good community events, etc. The extra tax perks are nice bonuses but they don’t influence our reason for being in Arlington.”
Ironically, despite being an incentive for tech companies, little information about the program can be found on Arlington County’s own website.
There’s a blurb buried deep on AED’s website, but no information about how to apply for it. “Contact Arlington Economic Development for specific details,” the page said.
We couldn’t find anything on Arlington’s Taxes & Payments site. A PDF document on the site, listing business tax rates, does not list the Technology Zone rate. Neither did the paper tax bill mailed by the Commissioner of Revenue’s office. When we asked about it last month, we were referred to the Tech Zone’s section of county code itself.
The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. Police say 60-year-old John Dawson, of Clinton, Md., was turning left onto 15th Street S. from S. Eads Street when he struck a pole.
Dawson was transported to George Washington University hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Arlington County Police Department’s critical accident team responded to the scene. Investigators are still trying to determine if Dawson’s death was caused by the crash or was the result of a medical emergency that occurred just before the crash, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
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.
(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.”
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
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.
A 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.
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
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.
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.
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
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Arlington County police have arrested three suspects in the murder of an 87-year-old Arlington man.
On 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.