Torrez Murder Trial Begins — The murder trial of Jorge Torrez, the ex-Marine accused of killing Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, has gotten underway. Torrez is already serving multiple life sentences after being convicted in Arlington of rape and numerous other charges. [Washington Post]
Anti-Streetcar Group Blasts County Study — The group Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit has released a list of the “top 15 reasons” a county-funded study on the costs and benefits of a streetcar system is “another waste of taxpayers’ money.” AST says the study is biased and lacking in original research. [Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit]
Arlington Named One of the Worst Rental Investments — Those who invest in rental properties in Arlington only receive a 5 percent return on their investment, making it No. 11 on the list of worst markets for returns for landlords. That’s according to a list compiled by the firm RealtyTrac. [Washington Business Journal]
Authors to Speak at Central Library — Acclaimed authors Ann Beattie and Richard Ford will speak at Arlington Central Library this month as part of the annual Arlington Reads initiative. The Arlington Reads theme this year is “Dazed and Confused: Two Great Writers on Boomer Angst.” Beattie will speak at Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) on April 10 and Ford will speak on April 24. [Arlington County]
Civic Federation Calls for Tax Cut – The Arlington County Civic Federation voted yesterday to recommend a 3-cent or more cut in the county’s property tax rate. The rate currently stands at $1.006 per $100 in assessed value. One civic federation delegate said the group’s vote sends a message to county government: “Rein it in a little bit.” [InsideNoVa]
Arlington Photos Highlighted as Example of Why Microsoft CEO is Retiring — Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, announced in August that he will be stepping down within a year and two photos taken at the Pentagon City mall are being touted as an example of why. The first photo shows an empty Microsoft Store at the mall this past Sunday (December 8) during prime holiday shopping season. The next photo shows a packed Apple Store at the same mall. [Slate]
Parents Claim Incompatible Programs at Drew Model School — Parents who have students at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.) told the County Board last week that the school’s dual focus — a traditional elementary school program and a separate Montessori program — are becoming incompatible. The parents say having the two different programs operate under the same roof stresses both. [Sun Gazette]
Opening Statements in Arlington Sheriff’s Deputy Murder Trial — The murder trial for Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson began on Monday with opening statements from attorneys on both sides. Patterson is accused of shooting and killing Julian Dawkins during a confrontation in May. [Alexandria Times]
Google Doodle Commemorates Former Arlington Resident — Monday’s Google Doodle commemorated Grace Hopper’s 107th birthday. Hopper, who used to live in Pentagon City, was a pioneering computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. According to Wikipedia, “Grace Murray Hopper Park, located on South Joyce Street in Arlington, Virginia, is a small memorial park in front of her former residence (River House Apartments) and is now owned by Arlington County, Virginia.” [Google]
Deputy Accused of Murder Again Denied Bond — Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson, who is accused of murdering Julian Dawkins, has been denied bond for a third time. Patterson’s defense attorney argued that Dawkins may have been using and dealing drugs, and Dawkins’ previous dealings with police caused his confrontational nature the night of the incident. Patterson’s trial starts on December 9. [WUSA]
Home Sales, Prices Rise — The combination of higher sales and increasing average sales prices boosted Arlington’s total sales volume for August by 29.4 percent, to $173 million, compared to last year. The average price of all residential properties rose 8.1 percent to $594,479. Homes sold last month spent an average of 29 days on the market between listing and contract, compared with 50 days a year ago. [Sun Gazette]
Lost Dog/Stray Cat Profile — A Washington Post story profiles two of Arlington’s well known restaurants that help pets find homes — Lost Dog Cafe and Stray Cat Cafe. Co-founders Pam McAlwee and Ross Underwood describe how they started rescuing strays from shelters before the age of cell phones and the internet. Each year the duo, along with their 300 volunteers, helps around 1,800 dogs and 700 cats find homes. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by maryva2
Arlington Sheriff’s Deputy Indicted — A grand jury has indicted Arlington County Sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson in the shooting death of 22-year-old Julian Dawkins. Patterson is charged with murder and a firearms charge. A trial date has yet to be set. [WJLA]
Near Record Humidity Mid-Summer — The mid-summer period from June 30 through July 23 was the second most humid in recorded history. The dew point averaged a steamy 71.2 degrees fahrenheit during that time. [Capital Weather Gang]
Shirlington Bar Crawl Set for Saturday — A bar crawl to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will take place in Shirlington on Saturday afternoon and evening. There will be food and drink specials at each of the four restaurants/bars on the crawl. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The two men were found dead in an apartment in the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street on August 7 last year. Although initially referred to as “suspicious deaths,” police quickly re-classified the incident as a double homicide. No weapon was found at the scene and the murders are considered an isolated incident.
To honor the memory of 59-year-old Spriggs and 31-year-old Moten, neighbors planned a peaceful walk that will take place tonight. Organizers believe up to 100 people may participate in the walk, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at High View Park on N. Dinwiddie Street. Police do not plan to work crowd control because the peaceful event will keep to the sidewalks and no road closures are needed.
Shortly after the murders last year, members gathered for a candlelight vigil for Spriggs and Moten. Dozens of people showed up to take part in the singing, prayer and poetry reading.
Police have not released any new information about the homicides, but confirm the investigation is still open. Anyone who may have information about the murders should call Det. Robert Wright at 703-228-4197. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
Miss Arlington Wins Miss Virginia Pageant – Desiree Williams, this year’s Miss Arlington, has captured the crown of Miss Virginia. The Newport News native and Hampton University graduate will compete for Miss America 2014 in September in Atlantic City. Williams performed Cubana Cubana on the piano for her talent and won support with her “Fit and Fun” platform. [Roanoke Times]
Deputy Accused of Murder Denied Bail — Arlington sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson, accused of murder in the May 22 shooting of Alexandria resident Julian Dawkins, has been denied bail. He’s due back in court on Aug. 6. [WJLA]
Guilty Plea in Smash-and-Grab Robberies – Floyd Davis, 43, of Washington, D.C. pled guilty Tuesday to a role in the smash-and-grab robberies of several high-end retail stores in the D.C. area, including the March Tourneau robbery at Pentagon City mall that cost the store $600,000 worth of merchandise. Davis admitted in Alexandria federal court to scouting the store to see where security guards and patrons were positioned, but said he didn’t break glass or steal merchandise. [Washington Post]
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson has been charged with murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Alexandria resident Julian Dawkins.
“Earlier today, the Commonwealth’s Attorney requested that detectives apply for an arrest warrant for Patterson,” Alexandria police said in a press release. “The warrant was issued this afternoon and Patterson was taken into custody at a residence in Spotsylvania County this evening. No further details about the arrest are being released at this time.”
Patterson, 44, was placed on paid administrative leave from the Arlington Sheriff’s Office following the May 22 shooting, which took place in Alexandria near Potomac Yard. According to scanner traffic that night, Patterson, who was off-duty, said he shot a man who pulled a knife on him.
Dawkins was a shuttle driver for the PBS NewsHour, which is produced in Shirlington.
Patterson was denied bond during his arraignment Friday morning, according to Del Ray Patch. At a press conference, prosecutors said that Patterson was seen arguing with Dawkins, walking away, then returning with his badge, gun and handcuffs. Dawkins had a pocket knife, but it was folded up and in his back pocket, WUSA reported.
As of Friday, the Arlington Sheriff’s Office has placed Patterson on unpaid administrative leave “pending the outcome of an internal investigation,” according to a news release.
Photo via Alexandria Police Department
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) James Sylvester Caroline pleaded guilty this afternoon to the murder of Columbia Pike jewelry store owner Tommy Kin Mo Wong.
Caroline entered the plea before Arlington Circuit Court Judge William T. Newman, Jr. Newman sentenced Caroline to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional three years for a weapons charge. The plea removed the possibility of Caroline facing the death penalty.
As part of the plea deal, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos read a statement of facts about the case.
Wong was born in Hong Kong but eventually emigrated Northern Virginia, married and raised a family. After working for years in the jewelry business, he purchased the store at 3219 Columbia Pike, named it Capital Jewelers, and began selling and repairing jewelry and watches.
An industrious man with a well-established daily routine, Wong’s family became worried when he didn’t return home after work on Friday, July 27, 2012. They called police, who were dispatched to the store, and then his wife and daughter drove to the store themselves.
After receiving permission from the family, firefighters broke the front window of the store to allow police to gain entry. They found Mr. Wong, deceased from a gunshot wound, in a rear hallway.
Video surveillance from the store and the nearby Days Inn, obtained during the extensive investigation that followed, showed the tragic scene and its aftermath unfold.
A man in reflective vest, later identified as Caroline, was seen entering the store and looking at the display cases with Mr. Wong. The man then pulled out a .40-.45 caliber silver handgun, and ordered Mr. Wong to place jewelry in a bag. Mr. Wong complied, handed over the bag, then started backing away. The man shot him once in the chest and left the store, prosecutors said.
The man in the vest was seen from the Days Inn getting into a Ford Explorer with the bag of jewelry, then driving away.
Police released surveillance images from the store, which led to a tip that the vest belonged to Parkinson Construction, which was doing masonry work on the new Wakefield High School, about two miles away. After police visited the job site, they received a call from the company’s attorney, informing them that one of their workers, James Sylvester Caroline, had recently applied for a transfer from the Wakefield job.
Caroline, who was on parole for credit card fraud, was found to drive a Ford Explorer. With that and other evidence, police obtained a warrant and, after Caroline left Wakefield on Aug. 1, 2012, he was pulled over by the Arlington police tactical unit on nearby King Street. The 53-year-old D.C. resident was arrested and held on an unrelated probation violation. He was charged with Wong’s murder two days later.
Detectives reportedly found papers in Sylvester’s car with the addresses of other jewelry stores which had recently been robbed. They found a pocket watch, believed to be stolen from Capital Jewelers. And they found a photo on Caroline’s cell phone depicting him with the silver handgun.
Upon further investigation, police found that Caroline had sold a watch at a pawn shop in Maryland 2-2.5 hours after the robbery on July 27. The watch, a Breitling, was determined to have been stolen from Capital Jewelers thanks to a serial number match.
Caroline displayed little emotion during the proceedings. With a team of three attorneys by his side, he quietly answered Judge Newman’s questions, affirming his agreement to and understanding of the plea.
Caroline’s family was in the courtroom for the judge’s sentence, but Wong’s family decided not to attend.
This article will be updated
An Arlington County jury has returned guilty verdicts in the trial of 26-year-old Javon Martin, who was implicated in the 2009 murder of Lyon Village resident Carl Diener.
The jury found Martin guilty of robbery and first degree felony murder today, according to prosecutors. He faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. The sentencing phase of the trial will begin this afternoon.
During the trial, which began last Monday, the jury heard testimony from Roger Clark III, Martin’s co-defendant, who pleaded guilty to Diener’s murder in January 2012. Clark described the crime as an early-morning robbery that went wrong when Diener fought back and turned out to be stronger than the men expected. During the struggle, Diener was fatally stabbed.
The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Molly Newton and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Lynch.
A more detailed statement from prosecutors is expected later today.
Javon Martin Trial Underway — The trial for Javon Martin, one of the men accused of killing Arlington resident Carl Diener in 2009, began on Monday. Attorneys for the Commonwealth spent much of Tuesday (January 29) presenting evidence against Martin. The other man accused of the crime, Martin’s cousin Roger Clark III, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last year and is awaiting sentencing. [Washington Post]
Man Arrested for Attempted Rental Car Theft — Police arrested a man who caused a scene at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday morning. He was spotted running around the grounds of DCA and along the George Washington Parkway after allegedly trying to steal a rental car. Airport Police found 28-year-old Robert Cooper of Washington, DC in Crystal City a short time later and arrested him. Cooper has been charged with Attempted Grand Larceny.
Green Valley Pharmacy Receives Historic Designation — The Green Valley Pharmacy in the Nauck neighborhood has been approved by the County Board for designation as the 33rd Arlington Historic District. It is the first historically African American commercial building to be honored as an Arlington Historic District. The designation was granted not for the site’s architectural significance, but for the historical and cultural significance, as well as recognition for Dr. Leonard Muse’s lifetime of contributions to his community. [Arlington County]
New Recruits Sought for Civic Leadership Program — Arlington County is looking new recruits for its Neighborhood College program, which is a free, eight-session course to encourage civic engagement and help residents build leadership skills. Participants will learn how to become neighborhood advocates and how to bring about change for issues affecting the community. The sessions will be held each Thursday evening from April 4 to May 23. Applications for the 2013 Civic Leadership Development Program are due March 4, 2013. [Arlington County]
(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.
An Arlington County Grand Jury indicted James Sylvester Caroline on capital murder and weapons charges for the murder of Tommy Kin Mo Wong.
Caroline is accused of killing Wong during a robbery of the Capital Jewelers store at 3219 Columbia Pike on the afternoon of July 27. Caroline was arrested just days after the murder during a traffic stop on the Arlington/Alexandria border.
Caroline is set to appear in court on Thursday, December 20, to set a trial date.
Art from 9/11 Children Displayed at Pentagon — Art created by the children of those who lost their life on Sept. 11, 2001 is now on display at the Pentagon. It’s the first large-scale exhibit of the art, which was created by more than 500 children at a summer camp for the children of 9/11 victims. [WJLA]
Long-Form Article Examines Torrez Case — The Washington Examiner’s Harry Jaffe takes a close look at the case of former Marine Jorge Torrez, who is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for the abduction of two Arlington women and the abduction and brutal rape of another in February 2010. Torrez will face a death penalty trial next year for the murder of Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell. [Washingtonian]
Book Dating Returns to Shirlington Library — The Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Avenue) is calling all single bookworms for a “speed book dating” event. Participants are encouraged to bring a couple books they found interesting, and will then be given 3 minutes to discuss them with each potential date. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Affordable Housing Complex Reopens — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has reopened the 111-unit Buchanan Gardens apartment complex on Columbia Pike following major renovations. [Washington Post]
Arlington Foundation Raises Millions — The Arlington Community Foudnation has so far raised $4 million on its way to a goal of raising $15 million. The foundation “raises capital for grants and scholarships to address community needs now and in the future.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Gamble
Initially classified as “suspicious deaths” yesterday, police now say that they believe Arlington resident Keefe Spriggs, 59, and Carl Moten, 31, were murdered inside the apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street.
No weapon was found inside the apartment, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Still, police are not saying whether a killer is on the loose. Instead, Sternbeck says the crime was an “isolated incident” and that local residents should not be worried about further violence.
Spriggs was a divorced father of two who worked in a body shop, WJLA’s Jennifer Donelan reported Wednesday evening. Moten, a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and was staying at his apartment.
Both Spriggs and Moten had criminal records in Arlington, including DWI and eluding police for Spriggs, assault and probation violation for Moten, and possession of cocaine for both. Spriggs’ crimes dated back to 2003, however, and Sternbeck said so far there’s no indication of any other crime taking place inside the apartment other than the two killings.
After going more than two years without a homicide, these murders are the third and fourth homicide in Arlington so far this summer.
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
The suspect in the death of Columbia Pike jewelry store owner Tommy Wong has been formally charged with murder.
Washington D.C. resident James Sylvester Caroline, 53, is being held without bond at the Arlington County jail on the murder charge and on a separate probation violation charge. He was arrested on the Arlington/Alexandria line during a traffic stop on Wednesday afternoon. Police say the arrest was the result of dogged police work and inter-agency cooperation.
“Through round the clock police work, this individual was located and taken into custody in a timely manner,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who was unable to reveal any other details about the crime or the investigation.
Wong was killed during an armed robbery at his store — Capital Jewelers at 3219 Columbia Pike — on the afternoon of Friday, July 27. At a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, friends and family members described Wong as a kind and gentle man who worked hard to serve customers and provide for his family.